Protesters target city cultural festival

By ,Edmonton Sun, August 6, 2011

More than a dozen protesters outside the Mayfield Inn and Suites carried signs and blasted loud music from a massive speaker during a cultural festival Saturday.

Protesters allege the Western Canada Eritrea Festival, held every year in Edmonton for the last 11 years, is a fundraiser for a dictatorship in that African country.

“We are opposing any kind of support they are giving to that country,” said protester Mike Brhane as protesters continued to blast loud music past 9 p.m.

Canada’s government placed sanctions on the country last year, including a weapon sales ban, after reports that the government there supported opposition groups in famine-strikken Somalia.

However, Ibrahim Burj, an organizer for the festival says all money collected from the festival does not support government efforts in the African nation.

He says the festival is nothing more than a cultural celebration for Edmonton’s Eritrea community.

“Some people just have different opinions,” said the organizer of the 11-year-old festival for the roughly 2,000 people in Edmonton’s Eritrean community.


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