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Two firefighters battle the blaze at the back of the property. // Alex Consiglio
Two firefighters battle the blaze at the back of the property. // Alex Consiglio

By Alex Consiglio

On an off day from the Toronto Star, a fire broke out near my neighbourhood. I shot over and managed to snap some pictures which the Star needed up using.

More pictures are inside the post…

A view from the front of the property. // Alex Consiglio
A view from the front of the property. // Alex Consiglio

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A crowd of men, women and children protest outside the U.S. consulate in Toronto. "Shame, shame, U.S.A. Shame, shame, U.S.A., " they chant. (Alex Consiglio/Toronto Star)
A crowd of men, women and children protest outside the U.S. consulate in Toronto. “Shame, shame, U.S.A. Shame, shame, U.S.A., ” they chant. (Alex Consiglio/Toronto Star)

By Alex Consiglio
The Toronto Star

Zafar Bangash stepped off his makeshift stage across the street from the U.S. consulate Saturday to hugs and kisses from his Muslim brothers.

Bangash, director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought in Toronto, led a crowd of roughly 1,500 in chants against the anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims.

“The Muslims, united, will never be defeated, ” yelled Bangash, the crowd following suit. “Shame, shame, U.S.A. Shame, shame, U.S.A.”

Bangash, the organizer of the protest, told the crowd to rise up against the inaction of the U.S., and the Canadian government as well.

“Harper, Harper, shame on you, ” said Bangash, the crowd of men, women and children roaring his words back at him.

“Islamophobia has now become the official policy of the U.S. and Canadian governments, ” Bangash said once offstage. He said that neither government has taken enough action against the film. “Not a single Canadian politician has uttered a single word about this scandalous and filthy movie, ” said Bangash, adding the statement issued by the U.S. government is not enough.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denounced the film, which ridicules the Prophet Muhammad, following violent protests across the Middle East, including an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens on Sept. 11.

Bangash wants the U.S. to remove the film from YouTube and prosecute Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the California man allegedly behind the film, for public mischief and hate speech.

The Toronto protest remained peaceful as violence continued in Muslim countries.

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From left: Brian Wijeratne, 19, his sister, Eleesha, 16, and his parents — Antonette, 50, and Jayantha, 49. Jayantha and Eleesha were killed in a head-on crash Aug. 5. Antonette suffered serious injuries. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)
From left: Brian Wijeratne, 19, his sister, Eleesha, 16, and his parents — Antonette, 50, and Jayantha, 49. Jayantha and Eleesha were killed in a head-on crash Aug. 5. Antonette suffered serious injuries. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

By Alex Consiglio
The Toronto Sun

Brian Wijeratne nearly lost his entire family Sunday when an alleged drunk driver smashed into the van carrying his parents and sister.

His father and sister are dead. His mom is in hospital with serious injuries.

OPP investigators alleged a 19-year-old driver was traveling the wrong way on the southbound on Hwy. 427 around 2:30 a.m.

As Wijeratne’s father exited the eastbound QEW for Hwy. 427, a GMC Envoy smashed head-on into Wijeratne’s rental Dodge Caravan.

The crash killed Jayantha Neil Wijeratne, 49, his 16-year-old daughter Eleesha, and left his wife Antonette, 50, in critical condition. The driver of the other car non life-threatening injuries.

Brian Wijeratne, 19, who wasn’t in the van, paced the halls of Sunnybrook hospital Sunday awaiting news of his mother’s condition — the only family he has left.

“No matter what I learn in school, it’ll never replace what I could have learned from my father,” said Wijeratne, who credits his engineering studies at Ryerson University to his father’s mentorship.

“My guide in life is gone,” said Wijeratne, tears running down his face. “He helped me become who I am.”

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