Adil Charkaoui joins Montreal protest against security certificates

posted on March 27, 2005 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Original author: Eilis Quinn
URL: [link]
Date: March 26, 2005

MONTREAL (CP) - Suspected Moroccan terrorist Adil Charkaoui joined several dozen people Saturday to protest national security certificates used to detain alleged terrorists without trial or charges.

"I had a normal life like everybody and then one day, (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) decided I was a threat to national security," said Charkaoui, 31, who was detained under a certificate for almost two years before being released under stringent bail conditions in February.

"They arrested me, they didn't show any proof and they told me I was very dangerous," he said, pulling up his pantleg to show the electronic ankle bracelet he must wear.

"I am just asking for justice ... I want the government to give me a fair trial to clear my name and show I'm not a terrorist."

Charkaoui, who is fighting the security certificate, is among five men who have been detained under the certificates since 2000.

The small crowd walked along downtown Ste-Catherine Street carrying signs and banners, calling for the end of "racist scapegoating.""Free the five," the crowd chanted. "Lock up Cotler. Lock up McLellan," they yelled referring to Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan.

Sophie Harkat, whose husband Mohammed Harkat has been detained under a certificate since December 2002, travelled from Ottawa for the protest.

Her husband has been accused of being sleeper agent for al-Qaida.

Last Tuesday, a Federal Court judge upheld a security certificate issued against Harkat, setting the stage for his deportation to his native Algeria.

"I have enormous rage against the Canadian government," Harkat's wife said Saturday.

"I'm a Canadian citizen and I don't have the right to know how my husband came to be detained for 27 months without knowing the charges or the evidence... It's unacceptable."

Ahmed Jaballah's Egyptian father, Mahmoud Jaballah, 41, is fighting both deportation and his third national security certificate in Toronto after the first two certificates were thrown out.

"We are out to put an end to the injustice is this country," the 18-year-old said, adding that the certificates are racist and discriminatory.

"When we came to this country, we thought this was a country of freedom, liberty and democracy,"Jaballah, the eldest of six children, said. "I've failed to see that."

Mary Foster, a member of the group Coalition for Justice for Adil Charkaoui, said the certificates unfairly target immigrants and must be quashed.

"What's happened is an attack to the fundamental liberties in Canada," Foster said. "(The certificates) are discriminatory and used as a tool primarily against Muslims and Africans."

Protester Christine Lavoie, 58, said she wanted to march against the certificates because they target Muslims the same way Quebecers were under the War Measures Act, invoked during the October Crisis of 1970.

"My husband and his friends were imprisoned for over 30 days for doing absolutely nothing," Lavoie said. "That's why I'm against all this. It's these five men today but tomorrow it could be anyone."

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