Friday, April 03, 2009

Canadian still stranded.
Maybe Kafka could explain

Downtown Khartoum. Might be an interesting place to visit, but Abousfian Abdelrazik doesn't want to be forced to live here.

Abousfian Abdelrazik -- a Canadian citizen blacklisted as a terrorist -- is still stuck in Khartoum, living on the charity of the Canadian embassy. In 2003, he flew to his native Sudan to visit his ailing mother, was fingered by some Canadian police outfit as a terrorism suspect, and jailed and brutalized by Sudanese authorities for 19 months before they tossed him out without charges. By then, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service were smarting with embarrassment over their misconduct in sending Maher Arar to be tortured; they cleared Abdelrazik.

But somehow, the spooks' finding of innocence didn't mean he could return to Canada. He was told that the U.S. had put him on a UN watch list -- and he should get himself off somehow. Later, the line was that the Canadian government would only renew his passport if he could schedule a flight -- but airlines won't sell a ticket to a person on the UN list. When supporters finally found an airline that would carry him, the government changed its requirement, insisting that they wouldn't give him a travel document without a fully paid ticket. And it threatened people who offered to buy him one with prosecution for aiding a terrorist. Several hundred Canadians chipped in; he was supposed to fly home today -- but instead the government curtly faxed a note to his lawyer, claiming a right to

"... refuse or revoke a passport if the minister is of the opinion that such action is necessary for the national security of Canada or another country."

What other country, this jaded U.S. citizen wonders? A broad cross section of Canadians are disgusted. They cry racism.

In Ottawa, Abdelrazik's supporters, including MPs from all three opposition parties, described his situation as "Kafkaesque" during a small protest and news conference on Parliament Hill Friday.

"Obviously, there's a question of racism here," Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor, told the CBC in an interview.

"He has the unfortunate problem of being the same colour as the president of the United States and the Governor-General. He's Muslim. He has an odd name, but there's no legal reason to deny him a passport."

Referring to the case of Brenda Martin -- the Canadian woman jailed in Mexico whom the Canadian government sent a private jet to bring home last year -- NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said there was a double standard at play.

"It saddens me greatly. If Mr. Abdelrazik's last name was Martin, would there be a different outcome?" Dewar said.

"... If this had been someone with a different skin colour and with a different last name, would there have been a different outcome?"

CBC News

To be continued, Mr.
Abdelrazik and many other Canadians hope...

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