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.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Canadian in Khartoum celebrates year of squatting in embassy

It's been almost a year now since Abousfian Abdelrazik moved into the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. It wasn't because he missed his scrambled eggs with ketchup and peameal bacon. It's because George W. Bush once called him a "turrrist."

On April 28, 2008, Mr. Abdelrazik--a Canadian citizen born in Sudan--took refuge in the embassy because he could not secure a flight home to Canada, and because he was a wee bit tired of the Sudanese security services abusing him. Days before, he'd been given permission to fly only to have that promise broken last-minute by Canada. So he had no other choice but to move in with the ambassador.

Briefly, Mr. Abdelrazik flew from Montreal to Khartoum in August 2003 to visit his ailing mother. Sudanese authorities arrested him on American and Canadian suspicion that he had ties to al-Qaeda because of his prior association with Ahmed Ressam, the so-called Millenium Bomber.

While spending the better part of 3 years imprisoned, interrogated and tortured under the auspices of the FBI, Mr. Abdelrazik's Canadian passport expired (that's his passport photo). He can't get home, although he's been cleared of all accusations (and was never charged in the first place).

He's on the U.S. No-Fly list, so he can't get on a commerical airline that ever operates in the U.S. He found one airline willing to take him, but because he's still on a U.N. al-Qaeda list, Canada won't issue him travel documents, even though he's been cleared by CSIS and the RCMP of any ties to international terrorism.

Ottawa said last month it would push to get him home if Mr. Abdelrazik got himself a ticket, the fare for which (from Khartoum to Montreal) is over $1000. Mr. Abdelrazik is short of cash owing to his insurmountable legal expenses, so a bunch of supporters got together and paid the airfare.

Ottawa balked, invoking a U.N. rule that suggests that in order to fly a named No-Flier through the skies the airplane must receive authorization from every single country whose airspace it occupies along the way. However, Ottawa could apply to the U.N. for an exemption; Britain did it successfully just the other day. But no.

So life goes on at the embassy in Khartoum, where Mr. Abdelrazik gets $100 per month to live in the lobby. (Um, let's see: $100 per month times 12 months = 1 plane ticket home + peameal-bacon breakfasts for everyone in Prime Minister Harper's cabinet. I don't see how anyone loses in this situation.)

Alas, Mr. Abdelrazik remains stranded, sort of like Tom Hanks in that film I never saw because the premise looked entirely preposterous. I guess there's yoke on my face.

1 comment:

backpackadventures said...

Is there a second bed? Or bunk beds? That breakie looks good.