Military intervention in Syria would only further destabilize the Middle East with potentially deadly consequences, the leader of a peace rally in Winnipeg said Saturday.
"It's wrong, it's illegal, it's unjust, it's inhumane," said Dawn Fastabend, about the military strike being threatened by the United States on the Syrian government. The U.S. has been talking about taking action against Syria, maintaining the Bashar Assad government used chemical warfare against the rebels who are trying to oust his regime.
However, U.S. President Barack Obama appeared to step back from a missile attack on Syria. Obama said on Saturday he will first seek support from Congress before taking any action.
About 30 people attended the rally at the foot of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Saturday. Only one Syrian-Canadian attended, a man draped in a Syrian flag who would not give his name. He called it an "absurdity to bomb Syria on false pretenses." Most people in attendance seemed to believe Syrian rebels used chemical weapons to kill people on their side, not Assad.
Fastabend said she called the hastily organized rally in sympathy with rallies taking place globally. "There's no reason to go to war, to attack a country that's attacking itself," she said. As well, Iran has threatened to attack Israel if the U.S. strikes Syria.
Fastabend was pleased the U.S. has at least delayed a missile strike on Syria. "It gives more time," Fastabend said.
"American intervention will not bring peace in any way. The only people who will benefit are warmongers and war profiteers."
Both Canada and the United Kingdom have said they will not join a military strike. Canadians must remain vigilant so the Harper government doesn't change its mind, Fastabend said.
A young man, who only gave his name as Tom, said both sides in the Syrian dispute are guilty of "mass murder, torture and destroying homes."
"We can't be seen to be supporting either side," he said. "Getting involved in a conflict of two... mass murderers would be the wrong thing."
Fastabend is not affiliated with a particular group but was helped with her rally by Peace Alliance Winnipeg.
Meanwhile, protesters around the world took to the streets Saturday to protest for and against a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria.
In Houston, Texas, home to a large population of Syrian-Americans, about 100 people lined up on opposite sides of a street in an upscale neighbourhood to express opposing views on a possible U.S. attack.
"We want any kind of action. The world has stood silently and it's been too long. Something needs to be done," said Tamer Barazi, a 23-year-old civil engineer who carried a Syrian flag and a sign stating "Syrian Americans for peace, democracy and freedom in Syria."
Standing across the street in Houston's sweltering heat were those opposing U.S. intervention, outnumbering the supporters of an intervention. Some carried signs stating "We Don't Want Obama's War" and "Hands Off Syria."
"How would you like another country to decide who is going to be the president of the United States?" asked 53-year-old Hisam Saker, a Syrian-American property manager who has lived in Houston for 33 years.
In Washington, as Obama addressed the nation, crowds of antiwar demonstrators gathered outside the White House. "Obama, hands off Syria" shouted the anti-war demonstrators, who carried yellow signs reading "No War On Syria."
-- with files from The Associated Press firstname.lastname@example.org