CALGARY – A man who repeatedly used a contentious chant at a pro-Palestinian rally says he never should have been charged by Calgary police because the phrase is not offensive.
Thirty-two-year-old Wesam Cooley, also known as Wesam Khalid, was charged following a protest in the city’s downtown earlier this month with causing a disturbance, and a hate motivation had been applied to that offence.
The charges were stayed Friday by Alberta’s Crown prosecution service.
Police had alleged he repeatedly used an antisemitic phrase while encouraging the crowd to follow along.
Cooley says he was told in custody that the charge came from his use of “from the river to the sea, Palestinians will be free.”
The phrase was again being chanted at today’s rally at Calgary City Hall, which took place across the street from a rally with dozens of members of the Jewish community.
Many Jewish people say the chant represents a clear demand for Israel’s destruction, while Palestinian activists say the chant is a call for peace and equality.