Friday, February 2, 2007

Racial profiling in our midst?

January 25th, 2007
*Racial profiling in our midst?*
*Bennis family demand justice*
Meg Hewings

Khadija Bennis has quietly grieved the loss of her beloved twin brother for
over a year, as she patiently waited to access information surrounding the
bizarre circumstances of his killing. But now, with no information
forthcoming, she is speaking out.

Twenty-five-year-old Mohamed-Anas Bennis was shot dead by a Montreal police
officer shortly after leaving dawn prayer at his neighbourhood mosque at the
corner of Côte-des-Neiges and Kent on December 1, 2005. Bennis was shot
twice: two bullets fired from above ripped through his body, one striking
his heart. The Montreal Police allege Bennis was carrying a kitchen knife at
the time and the shooting was an act of self-defence.

But Khadija Bennis, her family and their community have grown frustrated by
authorities who refuse to make evidence available, including videotape that
captured the incident.

"This is a case of racial profiling," says Khadija Bennis. "The
investigation is over, but we still have no details. Something is being
hidden or else the information would come out."

Indeed, the Bennis case has been supremely secret. Although Quebec City
police did undertake a closed investigation, there were no criminal charges
laid against the police officers involved in the incident. To this day, the
Crown and police reports remain secret, suppressed by Quebec Minister of
Public Security Jacques Dupuis.

"It's very hard to believe what the police/coroner are saying, because Anas
was the most gentle person," says the victim's sister. "He would tell me,
'Khadija, make sure you don't walk on ants' - he was [that] conscious of the
environment, and plants. He was spiritual, very generous and loving."

On January 7, approximately 4,500 people participated in a demonstration to
demand a public inquiry into Bennis' death, though nothing has come of it to
date. Another protest is being planned for February.

"[Racial profiling] is a social problem," Khadija Bennis implores. "Anyone's
brother or father could be in the same situation. We don't want that to
happen to anyone else. We live in a free society and we don't want those
protecting us to be killing us."