Monday’s session of the Saskatchewan legislature was disrupted by protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
“Hopefully this shows our governments what we want, because if governments are for the people, why don’t they listen to the people?” said protester Tayyaba Farooq.
After a rally Monday at 1 pm CST in front of the legislature in Regina, several dozen people filed into the public gallery. Halfway through question time, they began chanting “Cease fire now” and “Free Palestine.”
The speaker asked them to take their seats and comply with the legislature’s rules, which prohibit members of the gallery from speaking. The group continued.
Government MPs from the Saskatchewan Party rose and left the chamber. NDP MLAs, who had supported calls for a ceasefire, eventually left as well.
Security officers asked the protesters to leave and they did.
At some point on Monday, someone hung a small banner with a Palestinian flag on a pole with the Israeli flag, hanging in the legislature after the Hamas attacks on October 7.
“The Israeli flag in the middle, how is that not provocative?” Farooq said. “If you want to have peaceful protests and remain neutral, then you practice what you preach to us. Well, how are we supposed to go in there and not feel provoked and not feel like there’s already prejudice like we have?” Are you walking there?”
Another protester, Mohammad Abushar, said he will never forget seeing provincial government deputies leave the legislature.
“We will remember it every time they come to ask for our votes,” he said.
The Saskatchewan government declined to comment on Monday’s protests. On October 10, Prime Minister Scott Moe announced that his government would send $100,000 to Israel in emergency aid following the Hamas attack.
Last week, the government said it continues to support Israel’s right to defend itself.
The University of Saskatchewan Muslim Students Association organized a similar rally Monday in Saskatoon. About 50 people gathered in the U of S area to call for a ceasefire.
“The Palestinian population in Gaza is helpless. There is no need for them to suffer,” said Ahmad Al-Dissi, a member of the U of S veterinary faculty. “Events like this raise awareness and pressure politicians to act and stop this madness.”
Among those who oppose the ceasefire is US President Joe Biden.
“As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a ceasefire is not peace,” Biden said in a Washington Post article. “For Hamas members, each ceasefire is a moment they seize to rebuild their rocket arsenal, reposition fighters and restart the slaughter by attacking innocents again.”