Violence and upheaval in Cairo led more than 100 members of Ottawa’s Egyptian and Arab communities to peacefully demonstrate on Parliament Hill Saturday.
“We have to stand up for our people back home, ’cause what they’re going through isn’t fair, ” said Omar Farahat, 18, of South Keys.
“There are a lot of innocent people dying for standing up.”
Egyptians Against the Military Coup, a grassroots movement, held a rally condemning bloody attacks in Egypt on pro-democracy supporters at two peaceful sit-ins.
More than 700 people have died and thousands injured.
The July 3 military coup against President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, has led to clashes between loyal protesters and security forces in a struggle to control the country.
The Brotherhood rose to power in Egypt’s first democratic election last year.
“I think any Canadian would agree that it’s unacceptable for the army to come in and take over power of the country and only a few weeks later, start shooting people in cold blood on the streets,” said Nancy Hamzawi of Rockcliffe.
It’s best described as “a massacre,” she added.
“People are peacefully protesting, walking down the street and finding themselves killed through military violence against them.”
As Hamzawi was preparing for the event Friday night, “I was looking at my kids (ages 6, 4, 2) thinking you know, in Canada, we can do this and not worry,” she said.
Gunfire is even being exchanged in mosques — shocking everyone.
“All places of worship should be protected,” said Hamzawi.
Amnesty International is calling for a full and impartial investigation into “the violent dispersal of sit-in protests in Cairo this week, where security forces used unwarranted lethal force and broke promises to allow the wounded to exit safely,” reads an online statement.
Although some protesters were violent, “the authorities’ response was grossly disproportionate,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program director Philip Luther.
Based on initial testimonies “and other evidence we’ve gathered, there seems to be little doubt the security forces have been acting with blatant
disregard for human life, and full investigations that are both impartial and independent are urgently needed.”
Egypt has been the scene of chaos and unrest since the Arab Spring in January 2011 as thousands of protesters rose against President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for 30 years.