Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is regarded by admirers as the political equivalent of a rock star.
But for those who gathered outside Vancouver’s Ross Street Sikh temple to protest his visit to Canada, Modi ain’t.
Neither is Modi’s host and Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper.
As for the police present at the rally, they didn’t endear themselves exactly to the demonstrators.
Protesters were divided into three groups—one each at the east and west sides of Ross Street and another across Southeast Marine Drive—because, according to them, they were not allowed by police enough space outside the temple.
Academic Indira Prahst was disappointed about how police penned the crowd on the sidewalks while cars zipped by on Southeast Marine Drive.
“We have over 200 people on a dangerous road,” Prahst, an instructor in the Langara College department of sociology and anthropology, told the Straight.
Prahst stressed that the event was organized by a broad coalition of 25 organizations calling itself Communities United Against Narendra Modi.
“We are peaceful protesters,” Prahst said.
At the rally, speaker after speaker cited the human rights record of Modi, primarily his background as chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, where an anti-Muslim massacre took place in 2002.
Modi’s host Harper was also criticized for his government’s introduction of Bill C-51, anti-terrorism legislation that some fear may target Canadians of Muslim heritage.
Tracey Jastinder Mann noted that while Modi has been denied entry by foreign countries in the past, the Indian prime minister now enjoys diplomatic immunity.
Mann told the Straight: “This is a fight against racism and fascism globally.”