In a decision that must have added a certain edge to the next Cabinet meeting after it was announced, the Federal Court of Canada on Aug. 30 gave the green light to a $3-million lawsuit brought by Abousfian Abdelrazik against Lawrence Cannon, minister of foreign affairs. Abdelrazik is suing Cannon for misfeasance in public office, intentional infliction of mental suffering and breaches of his charter rights to mobility and to life, liberty and security of the person.
Abousfian Abdelrazik's extraordinary story first hit the news on April 28, 2008, the day the Sudanese-born Canadian walked into the Canadian embassy in Khartoum and informed staff that he wouldn't leave until he was booked on a plane back to Montreal.
His decision to go public was a courageous one. If the embassy threw him out -- as the consul indeed threatened to do -- it was almost certain that Sudan would arrest him again, and he would pay the heavy price of torture or even death.
But, after five years of exile, including two ghastly prison terms, Abdelrazik was desperate, and his gamble paid off. The Embassy granted him "temporary safe haven" and Canadians across the country began mobilizing in support of him.
"In the first place, when I got there, I got beaten. Beaten up by five guards. And they beat me very badly on my spine. I spent a month and a half, I couldn't walk. ... Then a few months later, I got a death threat by the jail staff. Sorry, I have to say the same language because I would like you to hear what they said to me. ‘You are a fucking Muslim terrorist. People like you should be killed' ... Then he turned himself to the other detainees, saying to them, 'Guys, why didn't you kill this fucking Muslim?'"
Speaking for the first time in public, Mohammad Mahjoub told an Ottawa audience about some of his experiences at the Metro Toronto West Detention Centre. (Video of Mahjoub's talk appears at the end of this article.)
Montreal -- Community members showed up at the offices of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in Montreal yesterday morning, intent on engaging in a little role reversal. The group came equipped to photograph and interrogate people entering the offices in an action called "profile the profilers."