Group denied permission to hold a rally

Concordia University has denied permission to allow the student group,
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) from holding a rally and a bazaar on university grounds.
On June 20, SPHR requested that the university allow them to use the green space on the corner of Guy and de Maisonneuve on Sept. 15 for a rally and bazaar entitled ‘End Israeli Colonialism – Unite for Justice’. Moreover, SPHR asked to hold another rally from Sept. 13 to the 17 and to have a teach-in on racism and discrimination against Arab and Muslim students at Concordia on Sept. 5 or 6.
The rally is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and will make its way to the United States consulate and then to the Israeli consulate.
In a press release, sent out on Aug 16, rector and vice-chancellor Frederick Lowy said that the university’s decision was based on serious space and safety concerns. SPHR had informed Concordia that they were expecting 15,000 to 20,000 people to attend the rally, but the green space can only accommodate 2,700 people.
Lowy added the potential for overcrowding, disruptions and confrontations at all the proposed events and the university was ultimately responsible for all activities on its property. He also said that the safety and security of the participants could not be assured with such a large rally.
Despite the school’s interjection, the rally is still scheduled to take place on Sept. 15. “We are still working with the University to find an appropriate solution. However, the rally and the bazaar will be taken place as scheduled,” said Sami Nazzal, president of SPHR.
The attendance estimate was based on previous SPHR demonstrations said Nazzal.
he added that human rights groups, anti-racist organizations, anti-globalization and Muslims, Christians and Israelis were invited from around Montreal all the way to New York City.
During a meeting on Aug. 30, Frederick Lowy explained to SPHR that the
administration finds SPHR history of events to be very peaceful, but the
University is worried about different groups attending the rally.
“It’s completely ludicrous,” stated Sabrina Stea, Concordia’s Student Union (CSU) president, “saying that there will be violence and confrontation is simply a fear tactic employed by the authorities to prevent people from participating.”
Nazzal believes that there should not be any serious concern about disruptions and confrontations. He added that rallies for Palestinian human rights are no different than any other rallies.
Hillel president Patrick Amar believes that the University is justified in its
decision because of the safety concern such a large assembly would produce.
However, Amar does not believe that there is any real probability of violence.
“Just because things are heating up in the Middle East does not mean that students won’t act with the same decorum as they did in the past,” said Josh Margo, former president of Hillel.
“We believe Concordia’s decision is direct attack on freedom of speech, and might be politically or perhaps racially motivated,” said Nazzal.
The planed rally has received full support from the CSU. “The importance of the rally supercedes university decisions,” stated Sabrina Stea.
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