Protesters in Winnipeg, Canada clash over motion to condemn Islamophobia
Winnipeg Downtown, Canada (IINA) – Tension ran high in downtown Winnipeg in Canada on Sunday, as a rally against an MP’s motion to condemn Islamophobia drew a large crowd of counter-protesters outside city hall.
The rally against Motion 103 was organized by the Soldiers of Odin Canada, a group with a name and symbol that closely resembles a European anti-immigrant organization. However, those at the rally in Winnipeg were primarily white men wearing sunglasses and, in many cases, bandanas over their faces, CTV News reported.
The scene was similar to others that have played out across the country recently. Earlier this month, opposing groups rallied on both sides of the M-103 debate in Montreal. Similar protests have taken place in Calgary, Regina, Vancouver and Toronto.
On March 8, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau encouraged Canadians to condemn Islamophobia during a speech in the House of Commons.
“If M-103, condemning Islamophobia, actually gets people to notice that there are people (who are) uncomfortable with the idea, that there are people who still have problems with the idea that we would condemn discrimination against Muslims, then we have to know,” Trudeau said. “We have to expose that, and we have to deal with it as a society.”
In the U.S., the Anti-Defamation League has labeled the Soldiers of Odin, an “extreme European anti-refugee group.” The symbol for the group’s U.S. chapter features a Viking in a horned helmet, with an American flag used as a bandana to cover his face.
The Soldiers of Odin Canada symbol is nearly identical, but with a Canadian flag instead of an American one.
According to the ADL, the Soldiers of Odin movement originated in Finland during the European migrant crisis. “The group was founded in late 2015 by Finnish white supremacist Mika Ranta,” the ADL says. “The ostensible purpose of the group is to conduct vigilante ‘patrols’ to protect Finnish citizens from the alleged depredations of refugees.”
Soldiers of Odin Canada has established chapters in several Canadian cities. The group’s B.C. chapter raised concerns last September when they started conducting “patrols” in the city. Police said they were monitoring the group, but saw no indication of illegal activity at the time.
Source: International Islamic News Agency