tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mohamed Kohail update: Urgent appeal for clemency

An update in today's Globe and Mail on the now-perilous situation facing Mohamed Kohail, the Canadian citizen on death row in Saudi Arabia, found guilty and sentenced to death for the alleged killing of a fellow student in a schoolyard skirmish.

"Only the Saudi king can prevent Canadian's beheading," the paper put it starkly. The family of the slain boy has refused to grant clemency, which under Saudi law they can do.

[The Tuque Souq has been covering the case since March, when young Mohamed was first sentenced.]

The uncle of the deceased boy summed up the efforts to save Mohamed Kohail thus far:

"I will not listen to them [appeals for clemency]... I have thought about forgiveness a hundred times, but a hundred and one times I have concluded these people [referring to Mohamed and his brother Sultan, also implicated] don't deserve it. They cannot just push us to forgive without counting the crime that has been committed. Execution is the only justice.

"The King is the majesty of us all. If he says drop everything we will."

Simply put, either Saudi King Abdullah spares Mohamed, or he (and possibly his brother, who will return to court for sentencing next week) will die.

A strong diplomatic initiative from the Canadian government to pressure the government of King Abdullah might save Mohamed Kohail.

More than 2000 have already signed this online petition to the Canadian government.

But there's more to do. Find your member of Parliament here and write him/her a letter, citing the case. Write to Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay. Write also to Jack Layton, NPD leader, who has voiced his support for freeing Mohamed Kohail.

Write, phone and fax the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Canada:
201 Sussex Dr
Ottawa,ON K1N1K6
Telephone 613 237 4100
Facsimile 613 237 0567

In Canada we've long repudiated the death penalty, and therefore there is no situation in which a Canadian citizen facing a state-imposed death should be acceptable to the Canadian government or the people of Canada. Even under Prime Minister Stephen Harper's policy regarding Canadian citizens on death row in "democratic" countries, the Canadian government is obliged to pressure the government of Saudi Arabia to release this Canadian citizen to Canadian custody. He did not receive a fair trial in a democratic country.

Mohamed Kohail has maintained his innocence. Ours is the moral high ground in this case, but more importantly any time a life may be saved, it behooves us to take all steps to ensure the safety of that life. I urge my government to make this a priority. I urge you all to take these steps and more to save the life of a Canadian citizen.

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