Some of you probably already know that Canada issued a travel advisory* telling Canadians with a Muslim background to not travel in the US. This is due to the US policy of fingerprinting and detaining all ethnic Muslims, even if their countries had no relation to the 9/11 attacks and there is nothing in their history to suggest a tie to terrorism.

This was spawned in part by the story of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen and an engineer, but originally born in Syria. He was returning to Canada after a vacation with his family, and his flight routed him through the US — I'm sure many of you remember my earlier story about a business associate who was dragged off an airplane and detained in a similar situation. Anyway, agents grabbed Maher — literally grabbed him out of the waiting area.

Weeks passed and no one had any idea where he was. Not even his wife was informed, and there was no confirmation whether it was even US agents or if he'd been kidnapped. Eventually they found him starting to rot in a prison in Syria, where he will now quite likely die.

Maher had been first shipped to New York and imprisoned there. He was held for six days and was then able to make a call. His mother-in-law arranged for a lawyer, who was told that Arar was a terrorist. A single meeting was held, and when the lawyer returned, Maher was gone and they refused to say what had happened.

When the Canadian government intervened and demanded to know where Maher was, they were told he'd been deported to Syria, even though he was a Canadian citizen. Canada has many citizens from “questionable” countries — we are a country built on immigrants and refugees. We even have many refugees from the US (computer crimes and marijuana crimes). In any case, Maher had fled Syria to avoid military service (Syria is a “state-sponsored terrorism” country — Maher literally fled to avoid being forced to be a terrorist), and if he returned, he'd go to prison.

And that is where he sits now.

Even if you don't care about Maher one way or the other, take a look at what this means. This means that your government can abduct people (he wasn't arrested, he was literally in a crowd waiting for a connecting flight to Montreal, was grabbed by agents and tossed in the back of a van), not tell you for weeks where they are (remember, it was only after the Canadian government intervened that we found out he was in Syrian prison), and then basically execute you “accidentally” instead of sending you back home.

Messed up….

(more info)

* The US has since repealed this, saying “Canadians are now exempt”, but with the caveat that they “still reserve the right to” do so. (That is, nothing has been done).

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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