Hundreds protest American travel ban outside U.S Consulate in Toronto
Codi Wilson and Kayla Goodfield, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, January 30, 2017 6:08AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 30, 2017 7:06PM EST
Hundreds of people marched from the U.S. Consulate in Toronto to Nathan Phillips Square this morning protesting U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The demonstration began outside the consulate at around 8 a.m. Monday before the group made their way down University Avenue to Queen Street to rally outside city hall.
The U.S. Consulate General in Toronto suspended services to the public Monday in response to the planned protest.
In a news release issued Sunday, consulate staff said there will be limited operations at the building today.
“A large demonstration is planned in the vicinity of the U.S. Consulate General in Toronto on Monday, January 30, 2017. The Consulate will temporarily suspend services to the public and will have limited operations on January 30th,” the written statement read
“There will be no visa or American citizen services operations at the Consulate. The Consulate will attempt to contact all persons who have previously scheduled consular appointments to reschedule the appointment for another date.”
Shortly before 6 a.m., Toronto police began to shut down roads in the area around the consulate, located at 360 University Avenue.
One of the people marching in the area told CTV News Toronto that she was there to support her family and friends who are affected by this ban.
“My sister and brother-in-law are on their work visas in the U.S. and they cannot come back home to Canada, they are Canadian citizens but they cannot come back,” Mona Yeganegi said.
At the rally, Mona said that she knows people in the United States and Iran who are not able to see their loved ones under these circumstances.
“I have a friend whose fiancé is in Iran and she is in the United States and they cannot be reunited,” she said. “It’s affecting a lot of people deeper than initially expected. I believe when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes our duty so it’s really important for everyone to stand up.”
On Friday, U.S. Donald Trump signed an executive order to authorize a 90-day travel ban on citizens from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
The move has sparked protests around the United States and a demonstration has also been planned in Ottawa at noon today.
The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa posted a security message on its website on Sunday, advising U.S. citizens to exercise caution in the area around the embassy, where the protest is scheduled to take place.
“RCMP and local police will provide uniformed police to monitor the event,” the statement read.
Speaking to CP24 outside the U.S. Consulate in Toronto Monday morning, Zaid Al-Rawni, CEO of Islamic Relief Canada, said he is 'disappointed' by the ban.
"Intolerance is like a wildfire. Once it gets going, there is no stopping it. Suddenly today, you are not a good enough citizen because you are a Muslim. Tomorrow you are not a good enough Cristian because you are not our type of Christian. The next day, you are not a good enough Republican because you’re not our type of Republican. Suddenly you find yourself consumed with this mania," he said.
"The thing that is giving me heart is that people are standing up and saying, ‘No, no, no. This is not our values.'"
Ward 21 Coun. Joe Mihevc said it is important that Toronto maintains its commitment to being a welcoming city.
“If you are Muslim, if you are Hindu, if you are Jewish or Christian, you are part of our human family here in the City of Toronto and you are welcome here. That is what Toronto is,” he said.
“We need to strengthen those commitments to one another.”
He added that a motion will be coming forward at this week’s city council meeting to make Toronto a “sanctuary city.”
“That is saying that even if you are here without papers, we are not going to ask questions for city services,” Mihevc added.