Toronto Star, Saturday, March 14, 2009
Is Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government
prepared to criminalize empathy? If not, it shouldn't
even consider bringing charges against the 115
Canadians and others who chipped in to buy a $996 plane
ticket to bring Abousfian Abdelrazik home from Sudan.
He's the Montrealer who has been stuck in Khartoum since
The Sudanese first held him for suspected terrorist
ties but found no evidence. The Royal Canadian Mounted
Police have no evidence of wrongdoing. And Ottawa said
it would give him travel documents to come home if he
got a paid-up air ticket. In the meantime, he has been
granted "safe haven" at the Canadian embassy for nearly
Inexplicably, Abdelrazik remains on a United Nations
terror watch list. His lawyer believes he was jailed on
the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's
recommendation. As a Canadian, he can legally return
home. But in the bizarre world of 9/11 security, the
people who shelled out for his ticket can be charged and
sentenced to 10 years for financially helping someone
who is on the UN list, his lawyer says.
The contributors include former Liberal cabinet
minister Warren Allmand and former Progressive
Conservative leadership candidate David Orchard, plus
university professors, lawyers, artists and others.
This is crazy. These people are not Al Qaeda
sympathizers with criminal intent. They are decent folk
who are acting out of pity for a stranded Canadian whose
own government won't help. They deserve credit, not
condemnation. It would be outrageous to charge them.
Harper should issue a statement that the anti-terror
laws have no bearing on this case. Then get Abdelrazik
on the first flight home.