Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"They Didn't Get Back To Me"

For those who follow such things, I think it is well-known that when a Canadian runs into problems while abroad, the statement "Canada is providing consular support" is often a euphemism for "We really aren't doing much of anything."

Problems seem to multiply if one holds dual-citizenship. The case of Mohamed Fahmy, the Egyptian-Canadian journalist imprisoned in Egypt for seven years on bogus charges of terrorism amply attests to this, and reputable news gatherers have openly pondered this issue:

Al Jazeera, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and other media supporters ... question whether Fahmy's dual citizenship is working against him.

"The government's position at this point on this case has been shameful," Tony Burman, a journalism professor and former managing director for Al Jazeera English, said in a news conference Thursday.

"The issue of dual citizenship, the issue of perhaps Al Jazeera, any mention at all in the trumped-up charges by the Egyptian military of the Muslim Brotherhood -- these are all things that... could intimidate and inhibit government officials in this country from moving," he said.

Is it possible that those of foreign, especially Arabic origin, face not only indifference but malice from the Canadian government? There is, of course, the infamous case of Maher Arar who, with Canadian complicity, was sent to Syria to be imprisoned and tortured for non-existent crimes.

The case of Omar Khadr is in a category all of its own, but one that once again demonstrates the selectivity with which the government protects Canadians' rights, as is that of Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik, who was smeared by our government as a terrorist and imprisoned in the Sudan and then abandoned by our government for many years; it is another case that should make all Canadians ashamed.

The most recent case of government indifference/malice, and one that is ongoing, is that of eight-year-old Salma Abuzaiter. It is especially disturbing, in that it deals with threats to the life of a child. Salma and her parents have been Canadian citizens for five years, and this summer the little girl accompanied her father, an emergency room doctor specializing in pediatrics, to Gaza, a chance for the young girl to spend time with her cousins and grandparents. Unfortunately, a few weeks after their arrival the present bloodshed in Gaza began, and now the girl is trapped there.

Salma's mother, Wesam Abuzaiter, has been told by authorities the only way her daughter can leave Gaza is to travel by bus, alone, for five hours, crossing the border into Israel and Jordan. Wesam says that is impossible for such a young child. Instead, she has asked the Canadian government to make arrangements allowing a relative to escort Salma to Egypt where she would board a plane to Canada: “I just asked them to communicate with the Egyptian side and let them know about that not more than that. I didn’t ask for more than that.

The Canadian government's reaction to that request:

"They didn’t get back to me."


  1. I hope Salma and her father survive and eventually return to their family in Canada safe and sound. All the cases cited were and continue to be miscarriages of justice. Brenda Martin should thank her lucky stars each and every day.

    1. Funny, Beijing, I was thinking of Brenda Martin when I wrote this. Was her treatment different because of the optics?