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"No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here!"

Anti-racist protesters surrounded and shut down the bigots in Toronto
Brian Champ

March 25, 2019

On Saturday March 23, just over a week after the horrific attacks on Muslims at prayer in New Zealand that killed 50 people and injured 50 more, the islamphobic hate-mongering group, PEGIDA, held a rally at the corner of University Ave and Armoury Rd to spread their hatred of Islam and Muslims.

About 50 islamophobes attended, some of them fascists and nazis, but they were vastly outnumbered by the counter-protesters, who numbered around 350 people, probably twice as many as at the previous PEGIDA event on February 23. There were so many anti-racist protesters, they were able to form a complete ring around the police barricades, using their banners and signs to shield those passing from seeing the hateful signs on the other side of the fence, and chanting to drown them out when they tried to spread their hate on the megaphone.

There were CUPE, OPSEU, and Steelworker union flags, along with a number of different banners and home made signs but all most drivers and pedestrians going by saw was the large purple "Shut Down Hate" banner blocking the view down Armoury.

Popular chants included: "No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here!"; "The people united will never be defeated"; as the standoff continued into hours, "Shut it down!" and "Nazis, go home" became popular. The names of all the victims in the Christchurch massacres were read over the megaphone to highlight the consequences of allowing these hate groups to have a platform.
At one point, the police moved up in between the two groups on the sidewalk on University Ave., in an apparent effort to help them march towards Queens Park. The mass of counter-protesters shifted around the barricade to block the path onto University. Then, the police changed their mind and allowed PEGIDA to march east away from University. Some counter-protesters went around the corner to protect the Toronto Masjid on Dundas St., just in case. But PEGIDA never got anywhere near the Mosque because most counter-protesters again shifted around the barricade and caught up to them less than a block down the street and sat down in the street to prevent them from marching.
After a somewhat tense standoff, with counter-protesters on the outside surrounding a police line protecting PEGIDA, the police led them back to University Ave, with the counter-protesters shifting around the barricades again to prevent them from marching. With a few minor scuffles between people on the two sides, the hate-mongers were let out of their pen to go home in small groups surrounded by police, and followed by counter-protesters taunting and mocking them by calling their retreat a "Walk of Shame."
This is an important victory in the fight against the forces of hate and the far right because a broad, diverse group of counter-protesters completely shut down PEGIDA, making them slink away, demoralized. And following a day after people formed "Rings of Peace" around Mosques across the city, province and country that were called by the Jewish community, it shows that there are wide layers of people who will stand up to Islamophobia and the forces of hate.


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