Demonstrators plan CN Tower photo-shoot

Last Updated Sun, 03 Oct 2004 18:48:50 EDT

TORONTO - As on most days, the CN Tower will Sunday again be the focus of numerous cameras.

But Sunday afternoon is different in that political demonstrators have also set their sights on the Toronto landmark.

Close-up of the CN Tower

The demonstrators are planning to gather at the foot of the tourist attraction in support of Kassim Mohamed, a Canadian Muslim man who became a terrorism suspect for shooting videotape of the building.



They intend to take pictures of the tower to protest against what they consider persecution of Muslims in the country.

Toronto resident Mohamed set off a national security investigation after he was spotted videotaping the CN Tower from a tourist bus in May.

He said he simply wanted to show the video to his children in Egypt, whom he was on his way to visit.

Instead he claims, he was arrested and interrogated for several days in Canada by Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP, and later in Egypt, by that country's security services.

Mohamed is now suing for $1 million in damages, and a letter stating he's not a terrorist.

Demonstration highlights wider concerns about police surveillance

Sunday's protest coincides with an annual report by the Toronto Police Service, which says information about possible extremists is collected at anti-war protests by its intelligence unit.

In addition, the report says New York police are training Toronto police, and that the two forces are steadily increasing the amount of information they share.

There is concern in the Muslim community, and beyond, about the Toronto police gathering intelligence about individuals considered to be potential extremists.

Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said Toronto police should stick to local police issues. "This is not really their expertise. They are new in this game and doomed to fail. Only innocent people will end up in files somewhere here in Toronto or New York," he said.

Mathew Behrens, an anti-war protester with the group Homes Not Bombs, said the Toronto police were wasting their time.

"Whenever we demonstrate [the police] show up, and we always ask, 'why are you here, we are a group dedicated to non-violence.' Its not like we are hiding anything, and its not like they are going to learn anything that's threatening to the so-called national security," Behrens said.

But Martin Rudner, the director of the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University, said the police were justified in watching these protesters.

"Groups associated with Islamic terror sometimes infiltrate into the larger scene and certainly in the view of the Toronto police from what this report seems to indicate there was concern," he said.

Toronto police did not return calls about its intelligence unit.

Written by CBC News Online staff