by Khadijah Ali (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 1, Rabi' al-Thani, 1435)
The Conservative government’s proposed Citizenship Act eliminates due process and hands decision-making power of taking away citizenship to politicians that can be fickle and pander to mass generated hysteria against targeted groups.
The fundamental difference between a dictatorship and a society based on the rule of law is that in the former, the whim of the ruler — or his minions — is the law. In the latter, a person gets his/her day in court and a judge interprets the law. This is what is referred to as due process.
Recent changes proposed to the Canadian Citizenship law will remove due process and will not only make it more difficult to acquire Canadian citizenship but also make it much easier to strip citizenship away from a person if the government thinks he/she is involved in criminal activity anywhere in the world or is acting against Canadian “national interest.” This is a very broad brush.
The new Citizenship law, Bill C-24, introduced in parliament on February 6 by Immigration Minister Chris Alexander contains several troubling provisions. While he says the bill is intended to streamline the citizenship process and prevent people from abusing the system by simply acquiring a Canadian passport while residing elsewhere — all justified concerns — the bill goes much further and has several problematic provisions.
The proposed act gives the minister of immigration vast discretionary powers to strip citizens with dual nationality if they are convicted of terrorism-related offences in a third country and sentenced to five years in prison. Similarly, people charged with treason, espionage or acting against the “national interest of Canada” can be stripped of citizenship. Who will define Canada’s “national interest”?
The law will affect even Canadian-born citizens if they are dual nationals. Since Canada allows dual citizenship as do many other countries, the bill will target a very broad group of people. Many citizens born in Canada may not even be aware of their dual nationality and may be stripped of citizenship if caught in the net. Provisions in the proposed act give the minister vast powers while curtailing the role of citizenship judges.
Of course, the government handout says it wants to streamline the Citizenship Act and prevent fraud and abuse. These are noble objectives but their sweep is so broad that they make citizenship meaningless if a person, even one born here, can be stripped because the minister believes he/she is acting against the “national interest of Canada.”
In the 1920s, for instance, thousands of Canadians were stripped of their citizenship because they were accused of being communists. During the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of Canadians of Italian and Japanese origin were put in internment camps on suspicion that they may be “enemy collaborators.” There were also moves afoot to ship Japanese-Canadians out of the country.
Politicians can be fickle and often pander to public hysteria, especially one created to whip up hatred against an identifiable group. At present, Muslims are at the receiving end of such xenophobia in most Western countries. It is not difficult to see who is behind this campaign: Zionists and their fellow travelers among Christian-Zionists, especially in the US. For several years, a campaign has raged against “Shari‘ah law.” Ignorant American lawmakers have ranted and raved that they would not “allow” Shari‘ah law to be imposed in the US. No Muslim has asked for it but that has not stopped the vicious campaign. Several states including North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee have passed laws banning Shari‘ah.
The US campaign is spearheaded by David Yerushalmi, a Hasidic Zionist Jew, and a staunch supporter of the Zionist regime, who launched the Society of Americans for National Existence. He even proposed on his website to make observing Islamic law, which he likened to sedition, a felony punishable by 20 years in prison. Thus, if any Muslim as part of his religious duty were to pray, that would make him a criminal and land him in prison!
Yerushalmi started another project, Mapping Shari‘ah, and was quickly joined by Frank Gaffney, another notorious Zionist Islamophobe, whom the New York Times described as “a hawkish policy analyst and commentator who is the president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington. Well connected in neoconservative circles, Mr. Gaffney has been known to take polarizing positions (he once argued that President Obama might secretly be Muslim)” (July 11, 2011).
Gaffney became Yerushalmi’s link to the Tea Party, a bunch of racists and bigots, as well as to former and current rightwing government officials. The result has been nothing short of disastrous for Muslims. Masjids have been attacked and vandalized; Muslims have been targeted and the campaign goes on. In New York and New Jersey, the police have an ongoing surveillance program against Muslims since 2002. Cars with FBI or police markings, target masjids, note license plate numbers of people attending prayers and even visiting them at their place of work, all aimed at intimidation and harassment. Not one terrorism incident has been reported as a consequence.
In the context of Canada’s proposed Citizenship law, several commentators have noted that the intended target of the bill is almost certainly Omar Khadr, convicted by a kangaroo military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay in October 2010 to eight years in prison. It was a plea bargain deal, imposed on him by his lawyers to enable him to walk out of the torture chamber where he had already spent eight years without charge or trial. Throughout his years of incarceration, he maintained his innocence and refused to accept guilt for killing an American soldier, Christopher Spear, during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002. Khadr was badly wounded and nearly died.
Khadr was born in Canada but since his parents are from Egypt, he could be shipped there where the regime has a horrible record of torture and brutality. The US government had shipped scores of people arrested in the aftermath of 9/11 to Egypt to be tortured. The Egyptian regime, then led by the dictator Hosni Mubarak, was eager to comply. The current Egyptian dictator, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is no less brutal. Were he sent to Egypt, Khadr would simply disappear in one of Egypt’s hell holes.
Another target group seems to be Canadian citizens going abroad to join jihadi outfits in places like Somalia and Syria. The fear is that such battle-hardened individuals will return to Canada and create security problems for the country. This is a legitimate concern but the manner in which it is being addressed is wrong. Many Western governments have turned a blind eye to their citizens going to places like Syria because they do not like the government there.
Individuals from the West going to Syria are mercenaries and terrorists. According to some reports, thousands have gone there in recent years. Governments complicit in allowing them to go to Syria and even fund and arm them should bear responsibility for such a policy and the resulting mayhem. To target innocent individuals in host countries and for governments to assume vast new powers is misguided at best and sinister at worst.
One final point. The real monsters — Paul Bernardo and Robert Picton, for instance — need not fear. Regardless of the severity of their crimes, they can rest assured that upon release from prison, they will not be shipped to some dungeon in another country. They will be allowed to enjoy Canadian hospitality. The minister of Immigration and Citizenship will not come after them. And if they commit more horrible crimes, they will also get their day in court, probably at public expense.
The new Citizenship act is dangerous and will have a severe negative impact on hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Canada is being turned into a dictatorship. All thinking Canadians should speak out against it and oppose the implementation of this act.