Saturday, March 21, 2009

Time To Declare Muslims Second Class Citizens

Canada proudly proclaims itself to be a country which follows the 'Rule of Law'. What does that mean exactly? How does Canada define the "rule of law"? Our own Parliamentary Website defines it as meaning that all are subject to the law, with no one...regardless of power, wealth or position, being beyond its reach. It goes on to say that the courts serve as protection for citizens in ensuring that various authorities are not allowed to operate above the law. In fact the same Parliamentary website contains these sage words:

"If anyone were above the law, none of our liberties would be safe".

In 1981 Canada proclaimed our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, assuring citizens access to due process. According to the Charter, an individual is protected against being detained without being informed of the specific offence. It goes further in guaranteeing that individuals are to be tried 'within a reasonable time'. Our Charter precludes the state from discriminating against individuals on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical disability. It all sounds so wonderful.

In short our democracy makes it unlawful to detain any person without providing legal justification and it ensures the accused the right to an impartial tribunal wherein the individual is allowed to confront the evidence against him or her. These are fundamental rights celebrated throughout much of the civilized world, with principles such as Habeas Corpus at the very heart of so called western democracy.

And yet, in spite of all these high minded ideals, for Muslims they are merely empty words on parchment. How can Canada proclaim itself a nation of law, when it violates those very same laws with some adherents of the religion that is Islam?

Everyone knows the story of Omar Kadar, the 15 year old who was taken to Afghanistan by his father to fight against the U.S. led invasion of that country. The allegation against this child soldier is that during a battle with American forces he threw a hand grenade which resulted in the death of a U.S. serviceman. Since that time he has been held in Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant, and is still awaiting trial. Some excuse this abhorrent disregard for western principles of law by pointing out that Canada must respect American jurisdiction in this matter.

But why should we protest at all when our own justice system ignores the foundations of our legal system here within our own borders? Mahmoud Jaballah is among many Muslims in this country who has been detained without charges being laid for several years. It is alleged that Mr. Jaballah is a senior member of a terrorist group, al-Jihad, an allegation he apparently denies. He has been held since 2001 and is still waiting for the authorities to show any evidence to back up their allegations.

Another Muslim accused of terrorist connections, Mohammad Mahjoub, recently decided to return to jail...rather than continue living with onerous bail conditions. Conditions which saw his children's new Wi game confiscated because it could be hooked up to the Internet. Under what authority is this man being held? He is held by the power of a "National Security Certificate", a legal instrument our own Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 2007.

So, how can Canadians continue to proclaim ourselves as a nation which observes the rule of law, and yet allow our Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be used as toilet paper by the authorities?
Obviously our elected officials have no interest in protecting our Charter, which shames all Canadians and makes us no better than so many of the countries we chide for human rights abuses. Rather than endure ridicule for our obvious hypocrisy I have a modest suggestion to get us out of this legal conundrum.

We can once again proclaim Canada a nation that upholds the rule of law by simply changing our legislation. Specifically we can make legal our currently illegal treatment of certain Muslims by depriving them of their Charter Rights by virtue of their religion. It is not without precedent, Canada already distinguishes between the rights of Aboriginal peoples and everyone else, we merely need to create another class of citizenship for members of the Islamic faith.

We need not stop with stripping Muslims of their Charter and Constitutional rights, Canada could go even further. The next logical step would be to legislate against Muslims being allowed to hold jobs in our civil service. Later we could restrict or limit participation in our system of education and/or deny access to our universities. To safeguard against legal challenges Muslims could be prevented from working in the legal profession.

Obviously we would need legislation which would define what it is to be Muslim. It would probably be best to go back to each individual's grandparents, establishing Muslims as those who have 3 or 4 Islamic grandparents. Those with just 1 or 2 could be determined as half Muslim, and have rights assigned accordingly.

I realize there are many bleeding hearts who will decry these suggestions, proclaiming that all individuals are equal before the law. But it is obvious that Canada long ago abandoned these principles, and along with them the notion that we are a nation of laws. By changing the laws we would at least provide ourselves with ammunition to confront those who accuse our nation of ignoring our own constitution and legal precepts.

Now...I will ask that you please excuse this humble blogger. I have an appointment with a doctor, my tongue has become so firmly embedded in my cheek that I require emergency medical attention.

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