More than a dozen people gathered outside a mosque in the heart of downtown Toronto with loudspeakers and banners in hand, shouting slogans about banning Islam as Muslims gathered to pray inside.
The gathering happened Friday outside Masjid Toronto on Dundas Street West near University Avenue.
The shouting was so loud that Tera Goldblatt, who works on the 21st floor in a nearby building, said she could hear it from inside her office.
When she came down to see what was going on, she said, she saw some 15 people screaming, some blocking the path of those trying to enter the mosque.
“The response from the people who were trying to get inside was very sort of ‘Oh well, they’re entitled to their opinion’ and ‘Oh well, I guess that’s just part of life,'” Goldblatt said.
“And it makes me really angry because that’s not part of life and it’s not freedom of speech. It’s awful and hateful and it shouldn’t be allowed.”
‘It’s very upsetting’
Mohamed Abdi, a member of the mosque, said it’s the first time he’s seen such a strong backlash against his religion.
“I was under the assumption that lately there’s been a lot of sentiment and positivity towards the Muslim communities, especially with recent events,” Abdi said. “It’s very upsetting that this did happen.”
Bryant Greenbaum also witnessed the protest. “You don’t do it in front of a place of worship on the holiest day of the week for Muslim people, and in an intimidating manner,” he told CBC Toronto.
Mayor John Tory and city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam sent tweets condemning the protest.
A Facebook post by a hate group called Never Again Canada celebrated the incident.