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Maher Arar

Maher Arar (born 1970) is a Canadian citizen born in Syria, who moved to Canada in 1987. He earned a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from McGill University and a master's degree from INRS Telecommunications in Montreal, and was employed in Ottawa as a telecommunications engineer. He has two young children and his wife, Monia Mazigh, has a PhD in mathematics from McGill.

On September 26, 2002, he was detained by United States immigration officials while changing planes at JFK Airport while returning to Montreal from vacation with his family in Tunisia. Immigration officials claimed Arar knew a man in Ottawa whom they suspected of having links to the al-Qaeda terror organization, and suspected Arar of being an al-Qaeda member himself. After being held apparently without access to legal representation, and despite being a Canadian citizen travelling with a Canadian passport, he was deported to Syria on October 7 or 8 where he disappeared. The Canadian government was not contacted about Mr. Arar's case until after he had been deported, on October 10, 2002. He later was discovered to be in a Syrian jail.

His deportation was condemned by the Canadian government and other groups such as Amnesty International, as was the American immigration policy of racial profiling. On October 29, 2002, the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a travel advisory strongly cautioning Canadians born in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Sudan against travel to the United States for any reason. (This complaint led to Pat Buchanan's "Soviet Canuckistan" comment.)

The American ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci, later told Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham that all Canadian passport holders would be treated equally. However, incidents attributed to racial profiling continue to be reported.

As of early March 2003, Mr. Arar was still imprisoned in Syria, and in Canada the New Democratic Party was pressuring the government to do more to secure his return to Canada.

External Links

  • CBC News early report (http://montreal.cbc.ca/template/servlet/View?filename=mtldeport021017)
  • CBC News report (http://montreal.cbc.ca/template/servlet/View?filename=deport021016)
  • The Globe and Mail report (http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/GIS.Servlets.HTMLTemplate?current_row=9&tf=tgam/search/tgam/SearchFullStory&cf=tgam/search/tgam/SearchFullStory.cfg&configFileLoc=tgam/config&encoded_keywords=canuckistan&option=&start_row=9&start_row_offset1=&num_rows=1&search_results_start=1&query=canuckistan)

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