Scores of people came together to denounce the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), at a rally organized in Surrey on Sunday, December 22.

CAA is a divisive law that welcomes only non-Muslim refugees from the Muslim-dominated countries neighbouring India. Aimed at polarizing the Hindu majority against Muslims by excluding Muslim refugees from these countries, CAA has sparked angry protests all over India, especially from those who feel that it violates the Indian constitution, which is based on the principle of secularism that does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of religion.

More than 20 people have died during violent demonstrations while many opponents have been arrested.

The Surrey rally organized by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) began with a moment of silence for those who died during protests.

The participants raised slogans against CAA and the BJP government. They held signs in support of secularism and diversity.

None of the local elected officials showed up, despite it being a holiday, even though Surrey has two MPs and four MLAs of Indian origin.

Among the speakers was anti-racism activist and educator Annie Ohana, who has consistently been raising her voice against human rights violations anywhere in the world. She had also spoken at an anti-CAA rally held outside Indian consulate in Vancouver on Friday.

On this ocasion, Ohana was presented with a medal of courage by the IAPI members, Parshotam Dosanjh, Navtej Johal, Sayyad Wajahat, Sandeep Modgil and Rakesh Kumar.

Others who spoke at the Surrey rally included Sikh activists Gian Singh Gill and Kulwinder Singh, besides Muslim activists Itrath Syed, Furuqan Gehllen and Dawood Ismail, and a Hindu Interfaith Chaplain Arun Chatterjee. Niovi Patsicakis from Global Peace Alliance and leftist activists Prabhjot Kaur Hundal, Joseph Theriault and Rawait Singh also addressed the gathering.



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