Imam loses fight to stay in Canada

Posted by admin on Oct 22nd, 2007

Irwin Block, CanWest News Service. Monday, October 22, 2007

MONTREAL – A Montreal Imam originally granted refugee status was to have been deported to Tunisia on Monday despite appeals from Amnesty International and Muslim supporters. For security reasons, the Canada Border Services Agency, charged with his removal, refused to reveal any details of the scheduled departure of Said Jaziri, 36. The agency would not say when his flight was leaving and would only disclose details once he had arrived in Tunis, said spokesman Eric Paradis.

Last week, an Immigration and Refugee Board commissioner rejected Jaziri’s bid to spend his last few days in Canada at home in Laval, Que., with his wife, Nancy Ann Adams, who is expecting their first child Dec. 20.

Following his testimony, commissioner Dianne Tordorf said Jaziri had “serious credibility problems” and officials feared he would not show up for the departure flight. He was held in custody.

His pregnant wife broke down in tears and supporters cried “injustice” as Jaziri was ordered detained.

“Who will teach my son?” cried Rida Mohamed Rhamaoui, one of his guarantors from the mosque where he served as spiritual leader.

He was among a dozen supporters who attended the hearing and denounced the ruling to reporters, including one from Al-Jazeera television, as “a message to the Muslim community.”

Jaziri lost his refugee status because he had concealed the fact he was convicted and served jail time in France in connection with an assault on an individual whose actions had led to the closing of a prayer room.

The Ottawa-based Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations had asked Immigration Minister Diane Finley to stop the deportation because Jaziri faces “a serious risk of torture” in Tunisia.

Amnesty International’s francophone section in Canada said the risk stems from his having been sentenced in absentia in Tunisia to three years in prison in December 1991 for links to a “non-authorized association” and distributing pamphlets.

At his immigration hearing, an IRB official said Jaziri was not harmed when he returned to Tunisia from France for a visit.

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