Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas during an unannounced visit to a Toronto-area mosque on Friday.
“Shame on you. How many more Palestinian children need to be slaughtered?” a woman in the crowd is heard telling Trudeau outside the mosque. “How many more before you call for a ceasefire?”
In a video provided to CBC News by a community member in attendance, Trudeau is seen inside the International Muslims Organization (IMO) Mosque in Etobicoke, Ont., trying to speak to the crowd. At one point, a man is heard yelling “Shame.” Another man is heard asking Trudeau, “Do you condemn Israel?”
The Prime Minister’s Office did not tell the media about the appearance in advance, which as of Friday evening had not appeared on his public itinerary.
The visit comes as more than 30 MPs have written a letter to the prime minister calling on him to advocate for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
“Everyone is hurt and hurting, everyone is grieving, everyone is scared of what this means,” Trudeau told reporters Friday in Brampton, Ont., when asked if his caucus is at odds over how the Liberals should respond.
Israel declared war against Hamas after the militant group killed 1,400 Israelis in a brazen attack on Oct. 7. More than 4,300 people have been killed in Gaza, according to figures released Saturday by the territory’s Hamas-run Health Ministry.
Tensions have risen across the Middle East as Israel retaliated with airstrikes following the deadly Hamas attack. It cut off the Palestinian territory’s access to water, food and electricity, which the United Nations says violates international humanitarian law.
IMO president Omar Farouk confirmed Trudeau visited the mosque there but did not offer further comment about how it went.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said the mosque visit was to “show his support to those impacted in the Muslim community from the horrific events in the Middle East.
“Right now, Palestinian, Muslim and Arab communities in Canada are extremely worried, as are Canadians of the Jewish faith,” said Alison Murphy in a statement to CBC News on Friday.
Liberal backbenchers, NDP and Green MPs sign letter
“As a Government, we are focused on connecting with our communities and speaking to those who are being impacted by what’s going on in the world today.”
Trudeau’s office says it will “continue to work with our allies to emphasize that civilian life must be protected, and their safety must be at the forefront of everything we do.”
Justice Minister Arif Virani was alongside Trudeau at the mosque Friday.
“Important to be with the PM and so many caucus colleagues for Juma prayers at the IMO mosque in Rexdale yesterday,” Virani said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“Thank you to the Imam for teaching all of us about the importance of unity over division, and love over hatred.”
Meanwhile, the letter calling on Trudeau to push for a ceasefire was signed by 23 backbench Liberal MPs, eight NDP MPs and both Green Party MPs. It asks Canada to join the call for an immediate ceasefire, help facilitate the opening of a humanitarian corridor, and stand up for international law.
“International law is clear that innocent civilians and all those not taking part in the fighting must on no account be attacked and must be spared and protected,” the letter said.
Source : CBC