volume 73, issue 17 january 23, 2003
Hamilton Initiates Day of International Protest
Last Friday's anti-war protest in downtown Hamilton kicked off a weekend of similar events taking place throughout the country. The event was
organized by the November 16 Coalition, a group comprised of several McMaster student groups as well as off-campus organizations.
The very first of its kind to occur in Canada, the march initiated a larger series of international anti-war demonstrations
held in 22 countries around the world.
Hamilton's anti-war protest began at the Musallah, a downtown mosque, where an interfaith service was held to pray for peace.
Representatives from the Muslim, United, Mennonite, Roman Catholic, Bahai, Jewish, and Hindu faiths were present.
Hosting the event was Muslim faith leader Imam Raouf, who pointed out that peace was possible only when the issue of social
justice was also addressed.
Following the interfaith service, marchers gathered at Beasley Park for a short rally. Wayne Marston, president of the Hamilton
and District Labour Council, was among those who addressed the group. Marston pointed out that everyone should oppose "Bush's war," referring
to it as unjust and unnecessary. He also called for an end to sanctions against Iraq, deeming them responsible for the deaths of almost 1.5
Approximately 250 demonstrators braved the wind-chill to march through the downtown core, where a member of the November 16
Coalition delivered a speech entitled, "Not one soldier, not one sailor, not one Canadian pilot for Bush's unjust war on Iraq." A steelworker
called on the Canadian government not to join the war on Iraq even if approved by the United Nations Security Council.
The march concluded at Hamilton City Hall with an address by Ted McMeekin, Member of Provincial Parliament for
"British Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken of late to saying, 'If any nation doesn't voluntarily comply with UN resolutions,
then the United Nations has an obligation and responsibility to enforce compliance,'" said McMeekin. "Frankly, I'd rather see the United
Nations working to ensure that every child has a nutritious lunch every day and that the scourge of AIDS be eradicated from Africa and
elsewhere. If Tony Blair needs a place to start with his principle of 'forced compliance' maybe he might start by explaining what he intends to
do with respect to UN resolutions 242 and 338 related to Occupied Territories (of Palestine)."
On the evening of the protest, the coalition held an anti-war forum at McMaster. Close to 300 people packed the health sciences
centre auditorium to hear various speakers from McMaster and the surrounding community. The line-up included Joe Comartin, NDP Member of
Parliament for the Windsor/St. Clair and federal leadership candidate Joe Comartin, McMaster religious studies professor Graeme Macqueen,
Burlington lawyer Hussein Hamdani, and McMaster biology professor George Sorger.
Comartin recounted a trip he took through Iraq along with a group of politicians and media that visited various parts of the
country. He described the detrimental effects of war and sanctions on Iraq, particularly its youth. Comartin also pointed out problems with the
racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims, which he felt was becoming the norm in Canada and the United States.
MacQueen read out a resolution that he had crafted in the name of the people of the world, condemning an attack on Iraq and
calling for a peaceful solution.
Hamdani drew on his legal experience to summarize four main points detailing the proposed war on Iraq's violation of the UN
charter and international law. He also provided answers to questions regarding the legality of various aspects of the War on Terror.
Sorger, on the other hand, placed the potential war in the context of what he described as an "American Empire," referring to
the war as being reprehensible but typical of aggressive U.S. foreign policy.
Student organizer Lisa Nussey was pleased with the events of the day and vowed that the coalition would continue with its plans
for the next international day of protest.
©Copyright 2003, The Silhouette, McMaster University's Student Newspaper (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
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