Trudeau condemns ‘glorification of violence’ in protests after Hamas attacked Israel

By Kyaw Soe Oo and Kanishka Singh

TORONTO (Reuters) -Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Canadian authorities on Monday condemned demonstrations across Canada by those they said were glorifying violence by supporting Palestinian Islamist group Hamas’ attack on Israel.

“I strongly condemn the demonstrations that have taken place, and are taking place, across the country in support of Hamas’ attacks on Israel,” Trudeau said in a post on X, formerly called Twitter.

“The glorification of violence is never acceptable in Canada,” he added.

Trudeau joined a solidarity gathering for Israel late on Monday and condemned Hamas’ attack in his address. Political leaders from across the spectrum in Canada have expressed support for Israel.

When asked if he made a distinction between pro-Palestinian protesters and demonstrators supporting Hamas, his office declined to comment.

There were competing demonstrations and rallies through Monday by different groups across Canada, including in Toronto, where some 1,000 protesters gathered in a demonstration organized by a group called Palestinian Youth Movement.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow denounced the demonstrations in the city and said they were unsanctioned. Chow added: “The government of Canada has rightly listed Hamas as a terrorist organization.”

Toronto police Deputy Chief Lauren Pouge said police respected the right to free speech while being against hate speech or speech glorifying violence.

Canadian province Ontario’s premier, Doug Ford, also said “hate rallies celebrating the kidnapping and slaughtering of innocent Israeli people by terrorists are reprehensible and disgusting.”

Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Saturday killing hundreds of Israelis and seizing dozens of hostages. Israeli TV channels said the death toll from the Hamas attack had climbed to 900, with at least 2,600 injured.

Israel subsequently battered Palestinians with air strikes in Gaza. Gaza’s Health Ministry said at least 687 Palestinians have been killed and 3,726 wounded in Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave since Saturday.

Mona Ayesh, a 46-year-old Palestinian-Canadian woman, who attended the Toronto protest, condemned the Israeli occupation of West Bank and noted Gazans have lived under an Israeli-led blockade for 16 years, since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

“The illegal Israeli occupation has to end in order for this violence that happened to end,” she told Reuters.

(Reporting by Kyaw Soe Oo in Toronto, writing by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Michael Perry and Gerry Doyle)