Supporters of Abousfian Abdelrazik — a Canadian citizen blacklisted as a terrorist and stranded in Sudan — accused the federal Conservative government of racism for refusing to issue him an emergency passport to fly home to Montreal.
Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon considers Abdelrazik a national security threat. The refusal represents a reversal of the government’s written promise to issue Abdelrazik an emergency passport if he had a paid-for ticket home.
Abdelrazik remains stranded in the lobby of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, where he has lived for nearly 11 months. Abdelrazik was added to the list in 2006 by the Bush administration. He has been cleared of any terrorist or criminal involvement by both the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service).
The news has also created controversy in the House of Commons. “The government is now in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.
Even in Omaha Nebraska, the heartland of America, Muslim Americans gathered to celebrate the end of Ramadan. A community of about 3,000 celebrated Eid Al-Fitr in the Hilton hotel ballroom room in Omaha. In the traditionally conservative Christian area, “They filed into the hall past non-Muslim Americans who, in bewilderment, stared at this unusual sight” reports IslamOnline. People with backgrounds from Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America all participated in prayers. One man observed: “This is really great to see so many cultures in one place at one time.”
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Increasing pressure from human-rights groups and members of parliament are calling Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to repatriate Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian labeled as an al-Qaeda threat. Abdelrazik’s situation has improved somewhat as he is now sheltered in a temporary safe haven in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. He claims to have been beaten and abused during his incarceration, and denies any connection to al-Qaeda or having ever been to Afghanistan. Abdelrazik has not seen his children for nearly five years; he is also on a UN no-fly list.
More European newspapers should publish the hotly disputed Mohammed cartoons, said German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as violent protests broke out in Sudan over the recent reprinting of the caricatures. “All European newspapers should print the [Mohammed] caricatures with the explanation, ‘We also think they’re pathetic, but the use of press freedom is no reason to resort to violence,” Schaeuble told the weekly edition of Die Zeit. The minister added that he “respected” the decision of 17 Danish newspapers earlier this month to reprint a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed with a turban that resembled a bomb with a lit fuse. The re-publication came a day after Danish authorities uncovered and foiled a plot to murder the cartoonist whose drawing first appeared in 2005.
A 33-year-old Jordanian man admitted to a German court Wednesday that he had participated in internet chatroom conversations that discussed committing terrorist acts. The man, identified as Thaer A, is charged with attempting to establish an islamist terrorist training camp in Sudan, along with Redouane el-H, a German of Moroccan origin who was jailed for more than five years last month after being guilty on a similar charge. Both trials relied largely on evidence compiled through police monitoring of internet chatrooms in an international operation. On the opening day of the trial, the court sitting in the northern city of Schleswig, heard that A, whose family comes originally from the Palestinian region, was supposed to provide the financial means for the cell. Police tracked down the members of the cell by monitoring chatroom conversations, arresting A in Sweden in March last year. “I took part in the conversations,” A told the court through his defence counsel. The defence has reached agreement with the prosecution and the court on reduction of sentence.
The northern Italian city of Turin is offering 300 euros per month as a subsidy to families who host refugees from the war-torn Darfur region in Sudan. The aim of the project is to encourage families or persons to host one or two refugees for six to twelve months, so that the refugees can achieve a certain level of autonomy. Most of the refugees are between the ages of 25-28. Of the 420 refugees and asylum seekers hosted by Turin, only 148 are eligible for the program, due to limited space.
The Conservative peer who helped negotiate the release of the primary school teacher jailed in Sudan for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Mohamed attacked her fellow British Muslims today for their “victim culture”. Baroness Warsi, a Conservative spokeswoman on community cohesion, also criticised Labour for its “patronage politics” and for having encouraged the “divisive concept” of multiculturalism. Lady Warsi, 36, born to Pakistani parents in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, is the youngest member of the House of Lords. She came to public notice earlier this month when she was asked by Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer, to accompany him to Sudan to mediate the release of Gillian Gibbons, who had been jailed for insulting Islam. Philippe Naughton reports. The situation in Sudan had been extraordinary and “thankfully” could never happen in the UK, Lady Warsi told a race relations conference in London this morning.
Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher jailed in Sudan for insulting Islam in a row over a teddy bear, tonight landed in Dubai on her way back home after being pardoned by the country’s President. The 54-year-old mother-of-two left Sudan landed at 8.45pm (UK time) and said: I just want to relax, I don’t want to say any more. I’m too tired.” Sophie Tedmanson, and Rob Crilly report.
Two leading British Muslims met the Sudanese president on Monday in an attempt to secure the early release of a British teacher jailed for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Mohammad. Gillian Gibbons was sentenced on Thursday to 15 days in jail for insulting Islam to be followed by deportation. Opheera McDoom reports.
A British teacher faces a jail sentence in Sudan for insulting Islam by letting her class of seven-year-olds name a teddy bear Muhammad as part of a school project. Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, has been accused of blasphemy – an offence punishable by 40 lashes under Sharia – and could be imprisoned for up to six months. Rob Crilly in Khartoum and Lucy Bannerman report.