Friday, March 30, 2007

Video Report: Paris Riots

To view the clip, please link on the link below:

Paris unrest turns crime into hot election issue

Paris - An apparently routine check of a man trying to use Paris' public transport system without a valid ticket has given the campaign for the French presidential election something that had been conspicuously missing: a hot issue.

The ensuing arrest of the man, a 32-year-old Congolese native allegedly living illegally in France, ultimately turned into full- scale riot at the French capital's Gare du Nord railway station on Tuesday, as hundreds of youths clashed with baton-wielding riot police.

This event, in turn, has provoked a lively and often acrimonious exchange among the presidential candidates, with Socialist Segolene Royal and centrist Francois Bayrou charging former interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy with having created an atmosphere of confrontation and Sarkozy shooting back by saying that his rivals are soft on crime.

'It is really sad to see the candidates for the presidency, that is those who must embody the identity of the nation, ... make excuses for cheats, rioters and the violent,' Sarkozy said Thursday, eager to continue the public debate over an issue on which he has largely built his reputation.

For her part, Royal said on Wednesday that the train station riot was further proof that Sarkozy's tenure as France's top cop had been 'a failure from start to finish.'

'Obviously, travellers must pay for their tickets,' Royal said. 'But that a simple ticket check could degenerate into such a violent confrontation proves that something is wrong ... French society has never been so violent. Relations between the national police and the population have never been so bad.'

For Bayrou, the hours of rioting at the Gare du Nord occurred because, as interior minister, Sarkozy had 'made of the police exclusively a force of repression.'

He accused Sarkozy's UMP party of 'seeking confrontation too much,' but also charged that the Socialists were 'too lenient' in their approach to crime fighting.

The ticket check turned violent after the man trying to get a free ride was subdued by the RATP agents because, police sources said, he tried to head-butt one of them. Police arrested him shortly thereafter.

However, many witnesses said the police had over-reacted and accused them of using unnecessary violence.

The altercation drew the attention of youngsters loitering in the station, who were reportedly also drawn by a false rumour that police had beaten a 13-year-old boy.

According to police, up to 300 youths began rampaging in the station, looting a sporting goods store, destroying furnishings and equipment and hurling objects at the police, who fought back with batons and tear gas.

The violence brought back uneasy memories of the riots of October-November 2005, when the deaths of two minority youths in a Paris suburb sparked three weeks of unrest throughout France during which some 10,000 vehicles and several hundred buildings were set on fire.

Several months earlier, Sarkozy had described many youths living in France's rundown suburban ghettoes as 'scum' and had vowed to 'clean up (the neighbourhoods) with a Kaercher,' using the brand name of a high-pressure industrial cleaner for effect.

Such comments as well as his tough stance during the riots made him the most popular politician in France for a period, but it has not helped him in the campaign, where the issue of crime has not played a significant role - until now.

In a recent survey, insecurity was well down the list of issues that potential voters found important, well behind unemployment and other social worries.

But this may change now. In the run-up to the 2002 presidential election, French media highlighted a series of violent crime and turned law and order into the most important single issue in the campaign by far.

The result was the stunning breakthrough of right-wing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen, who beat out Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin for second place in the election's first round - only to lose by a landslide in the second round to the current incumbent, Jacques Chirac.

A repeat of this phenomenon could help Sarkozy, whose campaign has been faltering and who has gone out of his way to court Le Pen's electorate.

However, many French voters may then ask themselves why, after being named interior minister in 2002 and serving in the post for nearly four of the past five years, scenes of violence are still dominating the news broadcasts.

Station riot puts French election focus on violence

PARIS (AFP) - Right-wing French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday defended the actions of police who used tear-gas and baton charges to control scores of rioters in a crowded Paris railway station.

In scenes reminiscent of the November 2005 riots, 13 people were arrested in several hours of confrontations Tuesday evening at the Gare du Nord which were triggered by an attempt to detain a fare-dodger.

Commuters cowered in dismay as groups of young people threw projectiles at police, smashing shop-windows, advertising hoardings and drink distributors. Calm was not restored till after midnight.

"We are the only country where it is considered abnormal to arrest someone who doesn't pay for his ticket. If the police is not there to ensure a minumum of order, what exactly is its role?" said Sarkozy, who stepped down as interior minister on Monday.

His replacement Francois Baroin condemned the rioters, saying that "nothing can justify what happened yesterday evening at the Gare du Nord."

"A perfectly normal ticket check degenerated into urban guerrilla warfare, into unacceptable, intolerable violence. We live in a state of law and of freedom -- but there is no freedom without rules," he said.

However the Socialist Party (PS) opposition said that Sarkozy's legacy at the interior ministry -- including the 2005 riots -- had stirred up animosity between police and young people from the high-immigration city suburbs or "banlieues".

The Gare du Nord clashes "illustrate the climate of tension, the gulf and the violence dividing the police and the population. The conditions for a relationship of calm and trust have urgently to be re-established," said Julien Dray, spokesman for PS candidate Segolene Royal.

Royal and Sarkozy are the frontrunners in the presidential election to take place on April 22 and May 6.

The Socialists drew a parallel between the station riot and an incident last week in which police detained a Chinese illegal immigrant outside a junior school in Paris, sparking an angry stand-off with parents.

"The incidents in the rue Rampal and those in the Gare du Nord point to a Sarkozy-inspired climate of tension, abuse of power, verbal violence and stigmatisation," said PS deputy Jean-Christophe Cambadelis. "This is the 'France of tomorrow' that Sarkozy is promising."

Sarkozy, 52, is widely hated by young people in the city suburbs where he is accused of instituting a policy of hardline police repression. Widely-reported remarks in which he called delinquents "rabble" and promised to clean out criminal gangs with a "power-hose" have damaged his image.

In Tuesday evening's incidents many of the young rioters chanted obscene slogans naming Sarkozy.

The trouble began when officials from the metro operator RATP stopped a 33-year-old man who had jumped over a turnstile to avoid paying. They say the man reacted violently and police were called. However some witnesses said his arrest was carried out with unnecessary force.

Crowds of young people then gathered in the underground section of the Gare du Nord, which is a major rail hub for the Paris suburbs as well as an international terminus.

A spokesman for the police union Alliance said that hostility to the police is increasingly widespread in France.

"The principle of intervening when other people are arrested is becoming general. There is an instinct to challenge everything in uniform," said Dominique Achispon.

The rioters had no known link to the arrested man, who according to Baroin is an illegal immigrant with a long police record.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Filipinos lose money on missing Canadian jobs

Updated Thu. Feb. 1 2007 10:18 PM ET

Kathy Tomlinson, CTV News

Virgilio Cabillan has a dream -- to help his countrymen retrieve thousands of dollars they paid to a Toronto lawyer, for jobs that didn't materialize.

"I am fighting for the people who lost their money and who are now crying for justice," Cabillan told CTV News. "My fight is that the truth will come through."

Cabillan is a former employee of immigration lawyer Rose Legagneur. In 2005, she sent him to the Philippines as her representative. His job was to collect money from Filipinos, who were desperately hoping to buy a better life in Canada.

Dozens of job hopefuls were told that -- if they paid Legagneur's employment agency up front -- she would help them find a Canadian employer and get a work permit.

"Because she is a lawyer the trust they put in her through me," he said. "People sold their houses to pay."

Legagneur's company sent dozens of job orders to the Philippines, under various Canadian business names and addresses. The salaries listed ranged from $20,000 to $50,000 per year. Perks were listed, too -- free round trip air fare, free accommodation and free health care.

Records show Cabillan collected US$181,000 from dozens of Filipinos on Legagneur's behalf, before he quit his job.

"I have all the documents with me," Calliban said, while showing CTV News a binder full of correspondence and bank records. "I have all the remittance that was given to me by the applicants."

Rodolfo Manalo is one of the Filipino clients who says he paid US$4,800 to Legagneur, almost two years ago. He did receive a job offer -- for construction work that was supposed to pay $23.00 per hour. Manalo told CTV News the visa officer at the Canadian Embassy eventually told him the job was bogus.

"We were very shocked then because we were denied by the Embassy," Manalo told CTV News, in an interview from Manila. "It doesn't exist so that is the reason we were denied."

"It ruined my child's future because instead of the money going to my child for his education or for his daily necessities it is going to pay my loan," said Manalo.

CTV News tried to find the Toronto firm named in Manalo's job offer, with no luck. The address given is a post office box. The phone number is out of service.

"It is painful. Because I work hard for this," said Filipino-Canadian Desiree Espinosa. She paid Legagneur US$4000, hoping to get her brother a job in Canada. She hasn't been able to find the company that was supposed to hire him.

"I finance my brother to help him in good faith that he can come here to Canada and join us," Espinosa said. "It's a lot of money. A lot of money."

CTV News called Legagneur and asked her to explain all of this, in an on-camera interview. She refused. We knocked on her office door -- but as soon as we said we were from CTV News, she slammed the door and locked it.

"It's shameful. So very shameful," said Jenneth Gordo, the manager at Jeremiah Queen International Services, a Manila employment agency which helped find job recruits for Legagneur.

"We are the ones facing the applicants," Gordo said. "They were so mad at us. They were so angry."

Gordo said Canada's reputation in her country has suffered as a result. "You know here in the Philippines it is very hard to earn money," she said. "The applicants invest a lot for this case and it all goes to nothing."

CTV News asked Immigration Minister Diane Finley whether she was concerned.

"Oh, we work so closely with our own operations abroad to make sure that people wanting to come to Canada do get all the facts," Finley told CTV News in Ottawa.

"We take a very dim view of anyone who is trying to misrepresent Canada's standards...because we want to make sure that the image of Canada the people receive is the right one."

Cabillan and several other Filipinos have filed complaints with the RCMP and the Law Society of Upper Canada. They hope someone in Canada will take action and perhaps even get the applicants' money back.

"I am appealing to the Law Society ... to hear my grievance. Appealing to the RCMP," said Cabillan. "Filipino people have such high regard when it comes to Canada. That's why they are full of applicants who want to come."

Man plucked off river ice above Niagara Falls

Updated Sun. Mar. 25 2007 11:39 PM ET

Associated Press

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- An apparent illegal immigrant was rescued from an ice floe about 1.5 kilometres upstream from Niagara Falls, authorities said.

Rescuers in boats plucked the shivering man from the ice floe and got him ashore.

Rescuers in boats plucked the shivering man from the ice floe and got him ashore.

Guards from Ontario Power Generation said they heard the man screaming for help at about 4:30 a.m. Saturday near the company's water intakes near Chippawa, Ont.

Peter Larsen, a control dam operator at the intakes, said if the man hadn't been discovered, "he would have gone through one of those gates and then very likely could have been swept over the falls."

Rescuers in boats plucked the shivering man from the ice floe and got him ashore.

Authorities said the unidentified 42-year-old man had an inflatable air mattress with him and was apparently trying to get to the United States. The ice chunk he was on apparently broke loose.

The man was treated for mild hypothermia before being charged by Canadian immigration authorities.

Lawyer to fight deportation of Iranian couple

Updated Thu. Mar. 22 2007 10:07 AM ET News Staff

The lawyer for a nine-year-old Canadian boy and his Iranian parents, who are back in Canada after being held at a Texas detention centre, says the legal battle is not over.

Nine-year-old Kevin Kourdkhani walks through the airport with his mother Masomeh Alibegi (left) and father Majid (blue shirt) after arriving in Canada Wednesday, March 21, 2007. (CP / Adrian Wyld)

Nine-year-old Kevin Kourdkhani walks through the airport with his mother Masomeh Alibegi (left) and father Majid (blue shirt) after arriving in Canada Wednesday, March 21, 2007. (CP / Adrian Wyld)

"We will be requesting permanent status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and we'll also be asking for refugee protection," their lawyer, Andrew Brouwer told Canada AM on Thursday.

The family was detained last month by U.S. Customs officials after their Toronto-bound flight made an unscheduled stop on American soil. They had been attempting to flee Iran.

Custom officials discovered that they had false passports and sent them to a Texas detention centre.

They were finally released after Immigration and Citizenship Minister Diane Finley granted the family temporary passage to Canada.

Kevin's parents originally fled to Canada in January 1995 and lived in Toronto for 10 years while seeking political asylum. Their son was born in Toronto in 1997.

But their attempt at that time to gain refugee status in Canada was rejected.

They were then deported back to Iran in December 2005 after exhausting all their legal avenues. Upon their return, the couple says they were both tortured.

Back in Canada, they now face an uphill battle as their temporary resident permits only last for six months.

Meanwhile, the family is fighting back over conditions at the U.S. detention centre.

"Kevin is one of about 10 plaintiffs in a lawsuit that was filed a couple of weeks ago by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the condition of detention centre," said Brouwer.

Upon their arrival Wednesday night at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the family tearfully thanked the Canadian government for its efforts to win their release.

"Thank you for everybody who helped us," Kevin said as he stood beside his mother. "I will go back to my school, to my teachers."

The boy had written a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, pleading for his family's release.

"I don't like to stay in this jail. Please bring me and my family to Canada," he wrote.

With a report from the Canadian Press

Canadian Gypsy baby likely to be deported

Updated Fri. Mar. 23 2007 3:19 PM ET

Canadian Press

CALGARY -- Being born in Canada isn't likely to help the unborn child of a self-proclaimed Romanian Gypsy now serving time in an Alberta jail for stealing.

The baby, who will probably be born at the Calgary Detention Centre, will be deported along with its mother once she has served her sentence, according to a spokeswoman for the Canadian Border Services Agency.

"We are going to proceed with enforcement action against everybody,'' confirmed Lisa White. "The child will be a Canadian citizen, and where possible we try and keep families together.

"But if we would be successful in removing a person with a child who is a Canadian citizen, it could very well be that they are removed together. The child would go with the mother.''

The soon-to-be mother, along with three other women and two men, pleaded guilty recently to three charges of theft from two Calgary liquor stores in January.

Court heard they distracted shop clerks while carrying out the thefts, one of which included walking out with a safe. The acts were caught on video.

Ancuta Sardaru, Luliana Boana, Aurora Ciuciu and Viorel Chiciu were sentenced to three months in jail, while Illeana Miclescu and Lucian Poenaru Miclescu each received an additional one-month term.

A 17-year-old girl was also charged and appeared in youth court Friday. Her case was put over to April 19 to enter a plea.

Although the Canadian Border Services Agency intends to seek a deportation order, the case could be delayed for some time. The group has sought refugee status on the basis of their Gypsy background, and any deportation order is subject to appeal.

"Once they've completed their sentence and if other cities aren't pursuing charges against them, and there are no other legal matters pending, then we are in the clear to go ahead with enforcement and look at possible removal,'' explained White.

"Forty-eight hours after we take custody they have a right to a detention review before the Immigration and Refugee Board, which will determine the fate of these individuals, so to speak.''

The group is facing additional charges, however, including some in Winnipeg.

"I'm not sure of the exact number of charges, but ... we issued arrest warrants and when they're done with them in Calgary, we'll return them to Winnipeg,'' said Const. Pat Chabidon, who noted the alleged crimes in his city were similar to those in Calgary.

"They usually let us know it is ending and we'll get our guys down there to pick them up.''<

Deporting the Canadian-born children of refugees is not out of the ordinary, said Calgary lawyer Stephen Jenuth, who has handled immigration cases before.

"The Canadian child does have a right to stay in Canada, but the trick is you would almost have to set it up with a friend who is willing to be guardian,'' said Jenuth, who is also president of the Alberta Civil Liberties Association.

A lot of things could come into play that could affect a decision either way.

"The child will always be a Canadian citizen and you may not be able to deport the child because the child may not have any status in Romania,'' Jenuth said.

"What could happen to this child when they arrive? It really depends on Romanian law. Does it give citizenship to children born in other countries?''

It's probable the Canadian Border Services Agency will only be able to get a conditional deportation order that would be effective once the refugee claim was settled, said Jenuth.

"The refugee system is way, way backlogged, so the kid's going to be in Grade 1 or 2 by the time this thing gets to the point that you have to decide what to do.''

Smugglers 'drown' scores in Yemen

At least 29 migrants have died after smugglers forced them at knife-point to jump into the sea off the coast of Yemen, the UN refugee agency has said.

The UNHCR said another 71 people - from Somalia and Ethiopia - were missing after Thursday's incident.

Some of the 293 survivors said the smugglers ordered some 450 migrants to jump when their boats hit rough seas near the coast town of Ras al-Kalb.

They said those who refused to jump were stabbed and beaten with clubs.

"We are horrified by this latest tragedy," said UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner Erika Feller after returning from a visit to Yemen.

"These brutal smugglers care nothing about the fate of the people they prey upon, both refugees and... migrants who are desperate to escape persecution, violence and poverty in the Horn of Africa," Ms Feller said.

'Attacked by sharks'

Some of the 293 survivors said four smugglers' boats approached the Yemeni coastline on Thursday morning in rough seas and strong currents.

They said the passengers were then ordered to jump into the sea.

Some of the migrants were attacked by sharks, and several recovered bodies showed signs of severe mutilation, the survivors said.

The incident is the latest in a series of tragedies involving smugglers' boats carrying people across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia.

It brings the total number of dead and missing so far this year in Yemen to 262, the UNHCR said.

Some 27,000 people made the crossing from Somalia in 2006, but 330 others died and 300 went missing, according to the UN agency.

The town of Boosaaso is the main point of departure for people fleeing Somalia.

Immigrant Detention at Hutto

Immigrant Detention at Hutto

This two-minute Freedom Files video short provides a shocking glimpse into conditions at a Texas facility to detain immigrants run by the Department of Homeland Security. Of the approximately 400 detainees at the Hutto Detention Facility, many are children who belong to refugee families seeking political asylum in the U.S. after escaping persecution in their country of origin.

The video introduces viewers to children like two-year-old Angie and her older sister Nixcari, who had been confined for months in the bleak, barbed-wire encased Hutto facility, where children wear prison garb and are held in small cells for the majority of each day. Recreational time is severely limited as are educational opportunities. Access to medical, dental and mental health treatment is inadequate. From one mother who was confined with her 12-year-old: ".a psychological trauma my daughter and I will carry with us for the rest of our lives."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Muslim women required to show faces while voting

Muslim women who wish to vote in Monday's Quebec election must now show their faces when they cast their ballots, the province's chief returning officer announced Friday, in a reversal of an earlier decision.

Marcel Blanchet has reversed an earlier decision and has now concluded Muslim women must remove their face coverings, or niqabs, when they vote.

Blanchet used special powers under electoral law to reverse the decision.

Elections Quebec had earlier decided that Muslim women will be allowed to wear the niqab, which leaves only a woman's eyes visible, if they sign a sworn statement attesting to their identity, show two pieces of identification and are accompanied by someone who can vouch for their identity.

Blanchet's initial decision prompted non-Muslim citizens to threaten they would show up at polling stations wearing masks.

After his announcement, Elections Quebec also received threatening phone calls and emails.

As a result, Blanchet had to get two bodyguards.

Quebec's three main political leaders had asked Blanchet to reverse the decision.

Liberal Leader Jean Charest requested on Thursday to have the decision reversed that would allow Muslim women to wear their niqab or burqa while casting their ballots.

Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair and Action democratique du Quebec Leader Mario Dumont agreed with Charest on the issue.

Boisclair said Elections Quebec has taken the hot-button topic of reasonable accommodation too far.

In recent months, Quebec has come under the spotlight for its treatment of reasonable accommodation for newcomers.

Sondos Abdelatif, 19, was given the ultimatum to withdraw from a corrections training session at a Montreal jail or remove her headscarf earlier this month.

In February, an 11-year-old Ottawa girl was ejected from a soccer game in Quebec after she refused to remove her headscarf during the game. The incident garnered international attention after soccer's governing body, FIFA, upheld the ban on headscarves.

Furthermore, the small town of Herouxville drew international attention when it adopted a declaration of "norms'' that outlines how immigrants must fit in.

With files from The Canadian Press

Immigrants upset over credentialing process

Globe and Mail
21 March 2007
The lack of a new agency to assess skills is a broken promise, support groups say


OTTAWA — Stephen Harper's government has abandoned its promise to create a federal agency to examine and recognize the work credentials of newcomers and will instead set up an office to direct immigrants to provincial bodies that assess their skills.

The reversal, outlined in Monday's federal budget, could hurt the Conservatives in immigrant communities, where the Tories hope to gain support in the next election.

"I am disappointed," said Joshua Thambiraj, president of the Association of International Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, which represents more than 5,000 foreign-trained doctors in the province. "We find that there is a kind of dissonance between acknowledging the problem and finding a solution. That dissonance has manifested again."

Mr. Thambiraj, a native of Malaysia, has been trying for five years to get status as a pediatric surgeon in Canada. But while he passed all the exams required in Ontario, his credentials have yet to be recognized, he said.

During the last election campaign, Prime Minister Harper pledged to speed up that process for Mr. Thambiraj and the estimated 350,000 immigrants in similar situations. The Tories said they would create an agency to assess and to recognize credentials at the federal level. They enshrined that promise in the 2006 budget and buttressed it with a $18-million investment over two years.

But Monday's budget said that instead of assessing and recognizing, a new foreign-credential office will "provide immigrants with pathfinding and referral services to identify and connect with the appropriate assessment bodies."

The funding for the initiative for this year also fell from $12-million planned in 2006 to $6-million.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Diane Finley denied the government was breaking any promise, even as he acknowledged that foreign-credential assessment recognition is a provincial responsibility.

"Foreign-credential recognition is a complex system in this country," Mike Fraser said. "Our new office will provide newcomers with a clear path to where to get their credentials assessed."

Opposition critics lambasted the proposal.

"A campaign promise made is not a promise delivered," said Olivia Chow, the New Democratic Party immigration critic.

"They have just decided to create a storefront to pass the buck," echoed her counterpart in the Liberal Party, Omar Alghabra.

The Conference Board of Canada estimates as many as 350,000 immigrants have taken jobs below their qualifications, which is costing the economy between $3-billion and $5-billion a year.

Les Iraquiens au premier rang des demandes d'asile en 2006; la tendance globale à la baisse se poursuit

vendredi 23 mars 2007

GENEVE - Les Iraquiens ont repris la première place des demandeurs d'asile présents dans les pays industrialisés en 2006. Toutefois, la tendance globale à la baisse du nombre de demandes d'asile pour l'ensemble des nationalités se poursuit pour la cinquième année consécutive.

En 2006, les demandes d'asile déposées par des Iraquiens dans les pays industrialisés ont atteint la proportion de 77 pour cent - passant de 12 500 en 2005 à 22 200 en 2006 - selon les statistiques préliminaires recueillies par l'agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés à partir des informations fournies par les gouvernements. Il faut remonter en 2002, l'année précédant la chute de l'ancien régime iraquien, pour trouver les ressortissants iraquiens comme formant le plus grand groupe de demandeurs d'asile.

L'augmentation a été particulièrement significative lors du dernier trimestre 2006, avec 8 100 Iraquiens ayant demandé l'asile dans 36 pays qui ont fourni des données mensuelles à l'UNHCR, reflétant ainsi l'accroissement de la violence sectaire en Iraq.

Bien que le nombre des demandeurs d'asile iraquiens dans la plupart des pays les plus industrialisés soit élevé, les chiffres sont toutefois bien en dessous du niveau record atteint en 2002, lorsque plus de 50 000 demandes d'asile avaient été déposées par les Iraquiens en Europe et dans d'autres pays industrialisés.

La Suède a été la première destination des Iraquiens parmi les pays industrialisés en 2006, avec quelque 9 000 demandes, suivie par les Pays-Bas (2 800), l'Allemagne (2 100) et la Grèce (1 400).

Environ deux millions d'Iraquiens se trouvent actuellement hors de leur pays dévasté par le conflit, principalement dans les pays voisins comme la Syrie (un million) et la Jordanie (750 000). Ces pays ne sont pas inclus dans les statistiques sur les pays industrialisés. L'UNHCR, qui gère un programme d'un montant de 60 millions de dollars en 2007 pour l'Iraq et la région avoisinante, a convoqué une conférence internationale à Genève les 17 et 18 avril sur les besoins humanitaires des personnes déracinées par le conflit en Iraq.

La nette augmentation du nombre des demandeurs d'asile iraquiens en 2006 est d'autant plus significative que la tendance générale du nombre total des demandes d'asile dans les pays industrialisés est à la baisse. Dans les 50 pays industrialisés inclus dans les statistiques globales, quelque 300 000 demandes pour le statut de réfugié ont été présentées l'année dernière, soit 10 pour cent de moins qu'en 2005. Dans toute l'Europe, ainsi que dans les 25 pays composant l'Union européenne en 2006, le nombre des demandeurs d'asile a atteint son niveau le plus bas depuis 20 ans. Ces cinq dernières années, les demandes d'asile dans les pays industrialisés ont diminué de plus de la moitié.

Le rapport de l'UNHCR indique que le nombre décroissant de demandes peut être attribué à l'amélioration des conditions dans quelques-uns des principaux pays d'origine des demandeurs d'asile, mais aussi à la mise en place de politiques restrictives dans de nombreux pays industrialisés qui, dans certains cas, dissuadent les requérants d'asile de déposer une demande.

L'UNHCR a plusieurs fois exprimé sa crainte que la volonté de maintenir le nombre de demandeurs d'asile aussi bas que possible n'aboutisse à ce que certains réfugiés se voient refuser la protection dont ils ont besoin.

Les principaux pays d'origine des requérants d'asile en 2006 étaient l'Iraq (22 200), la Chine (18 300), la Fédération de Russie (15 700), la Serbie-et-Monténégro (15 600) et la Turquie (8 700). Des statistiques distinctes concernant la Serbie-et-Monténégro ne sont pas encore disponibles. A part les Iraquiens, d'autres groupes ont connu une hausse significative de leurs demandes d'asile. Il s'agit des Libanais (en augmentation de 66 pour cent), des Erythréens (en augmentation de 59 pour cent) et des Bangladais (en augmentation de 42 pour cent).

Après avoir été le second pays accueillant le plus grand nombre de nouveaux demandeurs d'asile en 2004 et 2005, les Etats-Unis ont été à nouveau le principal pays de destination des demandeurs d'asile en 2006. La France, qui avait été le premier pays de destination en 2005, a connu une baisse importante de 39 pour cent des demandes d'asile l'année dernière.

Quelque 51 000 personnes ont demandé l'asile aux Etats-Unis en 2006, soit environ 17 pour cent du total des demandes d'asile dans les pays industrialisés. Cependant, en comparaison avec la taille de leur population, les Etats-Unis comptent seulement un demandeur d'asile pour 1 000 habitants, alors que la moyenne dans les pays de l'Union européenne atteint 3,2 demandeurs d'asile pour 1 000 habitants.

Après les Etats-Unis et la France, les principaux pays de destination pour les demandeurs d'asile en 2006 ont été le Royaume-Uni, la Suède, le Canada, l'Allemagne, les Pays-Bas, l'Autriche, la Grèce et la Belgique.

Le rapport intitulé « Niveaux et tendances de l'asile dans les pays industrialisés, année 2006 », préparé par la Section de l'appui à l'information et à la coordination sur le terrain de l'UNHCR, peut être consulté dans sa version complète (en anglais) sur . Une version française sera bientôt disponible sur le site .


Pour consulter ce communiqué de presse sur notre site web :

Iraqis rank first in asylum claims last year, but overall trend continues to fall

Friday 23 March 2007

GENEVA - Iraqis regained the top spot among asylum seekers in the world's industrialised countries in 2006, but the overall trend in applications by all nationalities fell for the fifth straight year.

Asylum applications by Iraqis in industrialised countries rose 77 percent last year -- from 12,500 in 2005 to 22,200 in 2006, according to provisional statistics compiled by the UN refugee agency based on information provided by governments. The last time Iraq was the main country of origin for asylum seekers in industrialised countries was in 2002, prior to the fall of the previous Iraqi regime.

The increase was particularly significant in the last quarter of 2006, when 8,100 Iraqis applied for asylum in 36 countries which provided monthly data to UNHCR, reflecting growing sectarian violence in Iraq.

Although the number of Iraqi asylum seekers in most industrialised countries is up, the figures are still well below the peak levels reached during 2002, when over 50,000 asylum requests were lodged by Iraqis in Europe and other industrialised countries.

Sweden was the top destination for Iraqis in industrialised countries in 2006, with some 9,000 applications, followed by the Netherlands (2,800), Germany (2,100) and Greece (1,400).

An estimated 2 million Iraqis are currently outside their strife-torn homeland, primarily in neighbouring countries such as Syria (1 million) and Jordan (750,000), which are not included in the industrialised country statistics. UNHCR, which has a $60 million programme in 2007 for Iraq and the surrounding region, has called an international conference in Geneva April 17-18 focusing on the humanitarian needs of those uprooted by the conflict.

The sharp increase in the number of Iraqi asylum seekers in 2006 is significant when set against the general downward trend in the total number of asylum applications in industrialised countries. In the 50 industrialised countries included in the overall statistics, some 300,000 applications for refugee status were submitted last year, 10 percent fewer than in 2005. In Europe as a whole, as well as in the 25 European Union countries in 2006, the number of asylum seekers was the lowest in 20 years. Over the last five years, asylum applications in industrialised countries have more than halved.
The UNHCR report says the decreasing number of overall applications can be attributed to improved conditions in some of the main countries of origin of asylum seekers, but also to the introduction of restrictive policies in many industrialised countries which, in some cases, are discouraging asylum seekers from applying.
UNHCR has repeatedly expressed concern that the drive to keep the number of asylum seekers as low as possible may be resulting in some refugees being denied the protection they need.

The main countries of origin of asylum applicants in 2006 were Iraq (22,200), China (18,300), the Russian Federation (15,700), Serbia and Montenegro (15,600) and Turkey (8,700). Separate statistics for Serbia and Montenegro are not yet available. Apart from Iraqis, other groups recording a significant rise in applications were Lebanese (up 66 percent), Eritreans (up 59 percent) and Bangladeshis (up 42 percent).

After having been the second largest recipient of new asylum seekers in 2004 and 2005, the United States was again the main country of destination for asylum seekers in 2006. France, which had been the leading destination in 2005, saw a sharp decrease of 39 percent in asylum applications last year.

An estimated 51,000 people applied for asylum in the United States in 2006, accounting for some 17 percent of all applications in industrialised countries. Compared to the size of its national population, however, the United States had only one asylum seeker per 1,000 inhabitants, while the average in the European Union countries was 3.2 asylum seekers per 1,000 inhabitants.

After the United States and France, the main countries of destination for asylum seekers in 2006 were the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Greece and Belgium.

The report, "Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialised Countries, 2006," was compiled by UNHCR's Field Information and Coordination Support Section and is available in full on the UNHCR website at .


The following link will take you to the above:

Kevin's Canadian dream: '... sleeping like I was in heaven'

Globe and Mail
Kevin Yourdkhani's new year's wish came early.

23 March 2007


On the 13th day of the Iranian new year which began the same day the nineyearold Canadian and his Iranian parents were released from a controversial U.S. immigration detention centre this week it is tradition to tie two blades of grass together, make a wish and throw the knot into a river.

When the blades of grass untie, it is believed the wish will come true.

"I'm already in Canada," he told The Globe and Mail matteroffactly during an hourlong interview at a downtown fastfood restaurant yesterday, swiveling from side to side in his chair. He said he didn't even ask his father, Majid Yourdkhani, for the $100 he usually gets every new year. His mother, Masomeh Alibegi, fed him fries.

The family has been staying at a onestar downtown hotel "I was sleeping like I was in heaven," Kevin said paying $89 for the singlebed room with the cash they had saved up when they lived in Toronto from 1995 to 2005 seeking refugee status. They'll continue to lodge at the hotel until they can get their work permits, which don't automatically come with the renewable, sixmonth temporaryresidence permit they've been granted by Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley. The process could take weeks.

"As soon as I have it, I will find a job, any job. Anything to support my family, to pay rent," Mr. Yourdkhani said.

While Canadianborn Kevin said he wants to go back to the same Scarborough school he attended until Grade 3, when the family's asylum case was denied and they were deported to Iran, Mr. Yourdkhani told him that may not be possible. Where they live will depend on the rent.

In response, Kevin started listing off his teachers' names.

Upon arrival in Tehran in 2005, Mr. Yourdkhani said he was taken away from his family to a prison cell, where he was detained, beaten and tortured for six months.

Once he was released, friends helped them connect with a people smuggler in Tehran, who said he would help them get back into Canada. On the last leg of their trip, which had already taken them from Iran to Turkey to Greece to Spain to Guyana, their flight made an unscheduled stop on U.S. soil because of a medical emergency, and they were found to be travelling on fake passports. They had been detained at the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center in Taylor, Tex., since Feb. 12.
The conditions were so bad at the facility, Kevin said, that when he put a piece of cornbread on the table and said he didn't want to eat it, "the captain comes and says, 'This is not your house. If you don't eat it, you don't get anything else.' What kind of rule is that?"

For Mr. Yourdkhani, seeing children punished for three days for running around and playing in the common area was the most shocking.

And the image burned into Ms. Alibegi's mind: the dented imprint of what looked like a fist on the inside of the door to her neighbour's cell. Ms. Alibegi, who did not work outside the home the last time she was in Canada, plans to do so this time around.

"I don't want to stay home any more. I have to get out. If I stay inside, I keep thinking and then I will be crying, crying, crying. I want to forget it all, close that file."

Technically, that file closed at 5:20 a.m. on Wednesday morning nine days after the family received word that they would be issued the temporary residence permit when a guard banged on the door to Mr. Yourdkhani's room at the detention centre.

"They said we're leaving, and to get ready fast, pack everything up. I could not believe it," Mr. Yourdkhani recalled.

With only a blanket to stow away, he ran over to Ms. Alibegi's room and, together, the two of them tried to wake Kevin.

"Even in normal routine, it takes us half an hour to get him out of the bed. He keep saying, 'Let me sleep.' This time, too. But when we told him we're going to Canada, he jumped up, like with a remote control. He was washing his face and ready."

When the three of them stepped out of the facility, formerly a maximumsecurity prison,

Kevin told his mother he wanted to have his shoes glued to the ground when they arrived in Canada so that he would never have to leave again.

"When he said that to me, I couldn't stop crying," Ms. Alibegi said.

Aboard the direct Continental Airlines flight from Houston to Toronto, Mr. Yourdkhani said he was anxious until the pilot announced that they would touching down in Toronto in 36 minutes.

"That's when I knew no matter what happens now, we are in Canada. I keep on hoping the plane does not go to Guyana."

Finally in Canada, the superstitious Ms. Alibegi said that as soon as she can find two blades of grass amidst the melting snow, she's going to make a new year's wish for Canadian citizenship.

Cops offer 'Don't Ask' policy

Illegal immigrants can now report crimes without fear of deportation
23 March 2007

The Toronto Police Services Board has given the green light to police Chief Bill Blair to begin implementing a new "Don't Ask" policy that will allow people without "legal status" to report crimes without fear of deportation.

And the dozens of proponents who were on hand at police headquarters to applaud the move yesterday say they are especially encouraged by the board's willingness to consider addressing their concerns, including the possible addition of a "Don't Tell" component to the policy.

"I feel very optimistic that this is a strong step towards making Toronto a truly safe and acceptable city for everyone when it comes to police services," an elated Sima Zerehi, of the Don't Ask Don't Tell Campaign, said after leaving the board meeting.

"And I'm also optimistic that through ongoing community consultations ... that we're going to be able to come up with a solution that addresses everyone's needs."

The Don't Tell policy, an issue that was first raised two years ago, prevents police officers from asking people about their citizenship status, unless there are "bona fide" reasons to do so.

It is intended to entice people without status who have been victims of or witnesses to a crime to come forward without worrying that they may be kicked out of the country.

Zerehi, who has worked in an immigrant detention centre, said she's seen how real that fear is among the city's immigrant community. She said up until now many women who have been victims of domestic violence would choose to remain silent rather than risk a worse fate back in their homeland.

Zerehi, who moved to Canada 15 years ago and became a citizen about a decade ago, also experienced that fear first-hand during the more than four years it took her family to come here from Iran. "I know what it's like to see someone in uniform and feel like you have to turn around and go the other way," she said. "People without status shouldn't be shaking in their boots every time they see a police officer."

Blair was asked by the police services board 13 months ago to prepare a report on how he would implement the Don't Ask policy. He told the board officer training in the policy could begin immediately.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Church shields another refugee claimant

Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2007

The First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa is providing sanctuary to another refugee claimant.

Shree Kumar Rai, 44, a Nepalese citizen in Canada since 1996, was introduced at a news conference at the west-end Ottawa church Thursday morning. He has been in the church since Feb. 27.

Members of the congregation, led by former Ontario NDP leader Michael Cassidy, believe Rai risks torture and police oppression if deported to his homeland.

Initially a teacher and activist in Nepal, Rai was arrested and detained in 1985 for protesting Nepal's dictatorship. Between 1993 and 1995, he was arrested and tortured twice.

He came to Canada in June 1996, working in Montreal as a sushi chef while waiting to be accepted as a refugee. He was ordered deported last April, and his final avenue of appeal — an application to the Federal Court of Appeal for judicial review — was rejected in January of this year.

In July 2003, Samsu Mia, then 50, entered the church for protection. A citizen of Bangladesh, he stayed in the church for 17 months before gaining his freedom with special ministerial intervention in December, 2005.

Asylum-seekers in churches have no legal protection but police and immigration authorities generally will not enter places of worship to make arrests.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day labor sites are hot spots in immigration fight

Advocates offer support to workers; others aim to expose illegal status
01:47 AM CST on Monday, March 5, 2007
By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News

GARLAND – Tucked between railroad tracks and a cemetery is a site that is part of a national debate over blue-collar workers outfitted with sturdy work boots but flimsy work documents.

On one side are U.S. citizens who want to expose and shame employers who hire illegal immigrant workers.

On the other are Mexican diplomats and U.S. advocates who want to ensure that both legal and illegal immigrant workers get a fair shake.

And in the middle is the city of Garland, along with others in North Texas that operate day labor centers to control the traffic chaos from workers swarming vehicles driven by prospective employers.

Around the nation, day labor sites for casual laborers have operated for years with little fanfare.

But increasingly, they're flash points in communities coast to coast, as residents and anti-immigrant groups take matters into their own hands and nonimmigrant workers complain that they're getting pushed out of jobs. One legislator has proposed that cities be banned from building or operating day labor sites.

Recently, the Mexican Consulate in Dallas launched a know-your-rights campaign at day labor sites after a teenage worker at one site was picked up by a man pretending to be an employer and was subsequently turned over to immigration authorities. The Mexican diplomats want to explain to workers that federal minimum wage and occupational safety and health laws apply to everyone – regardless of status.

"These people are so vulnerable," says Eduardo Rea, who works in protective services for the Mexican Consulate in Dallas, which serves one of the nation's largest Mexican communities.

Clark Kirby, the state director for the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, said his group wants illegal immigration curtailed and that day labor sites "aid and abet" illegal immigrants.

The recent case of the 18-year-old from Guanajuato spiked anxieties among diplomats and day laborers already worried about the wave of immigration raids in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S.

The young man ended up in deportation proceedings and is now back in his home state of Guanajuato, said Mr. Rea and José Jimenez, leader in the Dallas-area association of day laborers. When his parents were notified several days later, the family was already in a panic, Mr. Rea said.

"We were calling the coroner, the police, the hospitals," Mr. Rea said. "The father was practically crying. So we want people to know if you go with someone, take down the names of the license plates and place a phone call about where you are going."

Not checking documents

At the Garland site, which opened in 2001 with city funds, signs attempt to deal with polarized emotions over immigration.

"The services of this day labor center are free for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. If you are not sure of your legal status, please contact the nearest office of immigration," reads one sign in both English and Spanish.

Another sign reads: "Contractors are responsible for verifying that the workers with whom they are contracting from this site are in compliance with federal immigration law."

The center boasts an office, bathrooms, and a roofed patio with concrete benches. A paved parking lot prevents traffic chaos that envelops day laborers at a popular Dallas site.

Garland city spokeswoman Dorothy White says the city financed the center with the Texas Workforce Commission, because of the "street hazards" created by day laborers.

The cities of Fort Worth, Plano and McKinney also operate sites. And though Dallas doesn't fund any similar sites, there are several informal day laborer venues in the city.

As for immigration law: Officials in the cities that run the centers say they're not in the business of verifying work documents. They leave that to the employers.

McKinney city spokesman Steve Hill says he tells those who might complain about illegal immigrants using the site that he's "not willing to assume that all the people who are there are illegal."

At the Plano center, where about 200 workers gather each workday, staffer Rudy Guerra notes that federal immigration law effectively exempts some employers from sanctions and document-checking if it involves the employment of casual, domestic labor for a sporadic period of time.

"We don't check for documents," Mr. Guerra said.

Such policies draw the ire of the Minutemen, who showed up at the Garland site several times last winter and videotaped workers and contractors. Mr. Kirby, a retired Arlington businessman, said he plans more watches in coming weeks.

"The cities say it is not their responsibility to check to see if the workers are here in the country legally," Mr. Kirby said. But it could be construed that cities are violating immigration laws that prohibit "aiding and abetting" of illegal immigrants, he said. "I don't believe there are any test cases against cities ... but, perhaps, that is coming."

The group also targets contractors, Mr. Kirby said, sending them "encouragement letters" to follow U.S. immigration law that since 1986 has made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire an illegal immigrant. Group members even check to see if contractors are properly registered and paying state taxes. They do so when a contractor vehicle, with a company logo, pulls up to a day labor site.

"Aside from hiring illegal aliens and depressing wages, some are not paying taxes," Mr. Kirby said.

Work for cheap

At the Plano day labor site off Central Expressway recently, some nonimmigrant workers said Mexicans simply work too cheap. Mexicans and other Hispanics get preference, even though a lottery system tries to establish that the first in line gets called at the 6:30 a.m. start time, the workers said.

A sheet with worker names and their skills, from landscaping to housecleaning, hung outside the blue and white day labor office.

"Contractors who request Hispanics are messing me up," said one black worker, one of a handful still there at noon with no job offers. He gave his name only as Alex.

Patrick Orsburn, a blond and blue-eyed construction worker who carries a carpenter's belt loaded with tools, agreed.

"It is the employers who show favoritism," he said. "And that is because the Mexicans will work cheap."

Mr. Orsburn said he stays abreast of the immigration debate.

Deportations of illegal immigrants from Mexico would be wrong, especially given Texas history and the fact that "Mexicans have always been here," Mr. Orsburn said.

But, he said, "there are a lot of us in the construction industry who are getting pushed out of our jobs."

Wage theft

Mexican Consulate officials say that the No. 1 problem for day laborers they talk to is wage theft.

At an informal day labor site in Dallas near Harry Hines Boulevard recently, hands shot up in the air as Mexican Consulate officials asked workers ask if they had ever been stiffed for wages.

"Wage theft is so prevalent," said Mr. Rea, as he passed out a CD detailing U.S. laws and the importance of worksite safety. "They actually tell people, 'You are illegal and I am not going to pay you.' "

Day laborers in the Los Angeles area organized more than five years ago, led by Salvadoran immigrant Pablo Alvarado. He now heads the National Association of Day Laborers, which fights such issues as wage theft and anti-solicitation ordinances.

"I think day laborers are seen as symbols for illegal immigration," said Chris Newman, legal director for the national group. "The mood and misconception in this country is that the undocumented worker has no rights. They think that a person without papers can be mistreated with impunity."

To prove his point, Mr. Newman cites a study that found that about half of day laborers were deprived of wages in the last two months. The survey of nearly 2,700 workers released last year was done by professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of California at Los Angeles.

After the Minutemen began videotaping contractors and workers in Garland, some workers organized into an offshoot of a national jornalero, or day laborer, group.

Mr. Jimenez, leader of the Dallas-area group, tries to drum up support at the consulates of Mexico, Salvador and Honduras.

"Many of the contractors think because of our migratory status we have no rights," said Mr. Jimenez, a self-described jack of all construction trades who admits to being in the U.S. illegally. "But they are wrong. There are laws that protect us, too."

But getting enforcement is tricky because many lawyers simply won't take a wage theft case that involves what attorneys view as a pittance, $80 to $100, Mr. Jimenez said.

"They should not treat us as animals," Mr. Jimenez said.

Iranian Anti-Sharia Law Activist No Longer Facing Deportation to Iran

NOII-Toronto is pleased to announce that S., a young Iranian woman who feared torture and imprisonment if deported to Iran is no longer facing deportation. Thanks to amazing community-led mobilizations as well as the legal work provided by Jackie Esmonde from the Law Offices of Roach & Schwartz, S. can finally begin to build a life in her new homeland.

After escaping an abusive marriage she had lived in Canada for almost five years. While in Canada, she became an outspoken critic of Islamic arbitration and was an active member of women's groups opposing the introduction of Sharia Law in Ontario courts.

Thanks to everyone who supported S. in her case.

An Iranian woman was in a Toronto court Thursday pleading not to be deported to Iran for fears she will be tortured.

The woman, who cannot be identified because she fears persecution, says she will be punished for speaking out against Islamic Shariah law.

"I might (go to) jail, they might hang me, as we heard about that girl a few months ago," she told CTV's Galit Solomon before breaking down in tears. "I don't know, I don't know what to do."

The woman fled Iran five years ago after divorcing her husband. She has been fighting for refugee status in Canada, but has been denied.

"I hope the judge just gives the answer (to) me because I'm tired," said the woman, who now makes her home in Toronto.

The woman's lawyer, Thomas Richards, is arguing the refugee denial be overturned based on a risk assessment conducted several months ago.

"We're also asserting that the Tehran government has informants here in Canada who are informing back to Tehran in the same way that the Canadian government has informants all over the world, and I lived in China and I met many of them," Richards said.

"So to say that we have to prove that there are Iranian informants or intelligence agents operating in Toronto, I believe to be a farce."

The judge listened to the case for about an hour. She will spend the next few days reviewing the evidence. A decision is expected next week.

Religious rights fight has Quebec in a sweat

By Les Perreaux
The Canadian Press
MONTREAL (Mar 20, 2007)

A Montreal YMCA is replacing its frosted windows with clear windows and blinds that can be closed or opened at the request of members, restoring the view from the exercise room to what it was before the frosted glass was installed.

The view was obscured with the opaque glass last fall at the request of a synagogue across the alley where some young male students found the state of undress of some exercisers to be a distraction.

Some Y members had also complained about people peeping in on them when the windows didn't have frosted glass.

The glass quickly became a flashpoint in an ongoing debate in the province over how far public institutions should go to adapt to the needs of religious minorities.

"It was never our intention to hide women who are training," said Serge St-Andre, director of the Park Avenue YMCA. "We wanted to protect the privacy of our members while respecting the wishes of our neighbours."

As Y management tried to close the curtain on the controversy, the debate on accommodating religious minorities in the province continued on other fronts.

The tabloid Journal de Montreal dedicated yesterday's front page to an expose of a pair of sugar shacks south of Montreal that took efforts to allow Muslims to enjoy the annual spring maple syrup tradition known as sugaring off.

The fatty feast of beans, pea soup, pancakes and massive doses of maple syrup usually includes pounds of pork, something forbidden from the diet of devout Muslims.

One sugar shack removed pork from some food to meet dietary requirements under Islam.

Another shack paused entertainment recently to allow about 20 Muslims to pray on the empty dance floor.

"Pea soup without ham," said one headline in Le Journal. "Our traditions must be respected," said another.

The main protester appeared to be little-known country singer Sylvain Boily, who was forced to take a 10-minute break in his afternoon show.

"It's a Quebec sugar shack," Boily lamented to the paper. "People are there to have fun."

Luc Gladu, the co-owner of sugar shack l'Erabliere au sous-bois, was stunned to see the prayer making provincewide news.

"This is really out of control, they prayed for five minutes and nobody was even dancing," Gladu said.

The sugar shack controversy and the case of the frosted glass are only two examples in debate that has been going on in the province since last fall over the accommodation of minorities.

The YMCA glass controversy became the subject of a petition drive by Renee Lavaillante, who complained the organization should not be veiling women to appease one minority.

"You have to be yourself and protect your values in the face of such requests," Lavaillante said. "I won't be closing the blinds, because it would be collaborating with creating our own ghetto, one I don't wish to be part of."

A poll of YMCA members showed about 72 per cent were satisfied with the solution of covering the windows with blinds.

But the Y is far from alone in feeling the heat.

The hijab head covering worn by some Muslim women was the most recent magnet for controversy. One young Muslim girl wearing a hijab was tossed out of a soccer game in Quebec, triggering headlines worldwide.

The Quebec, Canadian and international soccer federations did not clarify the rules despite immense pressure.

Last week, a Montreal Muslim woman complained that she was forced to chose between her hijab and a job as a prison guard. In both cases, authorities cited safety concerns.

A few months ago, a Montreal community health centre was under fire for holding women-only prenatal classes to make Muslim, Sikh or Hindu women feel more comfortable.

About the same time, an internal Montreal police magazine suggested female officers step aside to let male colleagues deal with Hasidic Jews.

Parti Quebecois Leader Andre Boisclair had to backtrack on his suggestion that it might be time to remove a large wooden crucifix from the Quebec legislature.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Blacks and Immigrants: More Allies Than Adversaries


The year 2006 will go down as a watershed year for the immigrant rights movement in the United States. Bringing millions of immigrants and their families and supporters into the streets was a huge accomplishment. But much more needs to be done to consolidate a fragmented movement and bring on new allies.

Last April, a group of African Americans and Black immigrants in Oakland, California came together to form the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). “BAJI was founded to support the demands of the immigrant rights movement and to engage African Americans in a dialogue about the underlying issues of race and economic status that frame United States immigration policy,” says co-founder Rev. Phillip Lawson.

But why are African Americans taking up the cause of immigrants, many of whom are breaking United States law just by being in this country?

“We believe that African Americans, with our history of being economically exploited, marginalized, and discriminated against, have much in common with people of color who migrate to the United States—documented or undocumented,” Rev. Lawson explains.

There is a long history of blatant discrimination against the people attempting to migrate from Latin America, Africa, Haiti, China, and other regions, in favor of Western Europeans. Historically, as now, immigrants of color have been scapegoats for the economic ills of the United States and been subjected to exclusionary laws and racist violence.

BAJI’s goal is to organize a core group of African Americans prepared to oppose racism in all of its forms by actively building coalitions with immigrant communities and immigrant rights organizations, to further the mutual cause of economic and social justice for all. To succeed in the long run, activists must build a movement that incorporates all social justice movements, including immigrant rights and civil rights.

Formula for a Disaster

A public opinion poll conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts in April 2006 found that a large majority of African Americans feel that immigrants are hard-working (79 percent) and have strong family values (77 percent). African Americans were more than twice as likely as Whites (43 percent vs. 20 percent) to support public benefits for undocumented immigrants. Two-thirds of Whites and 79 percent of African Americans said that the children of undocumented immigrants should be allowed to attend public schools.

Yet, more African Americans (22 percent) than Whites (14 percent) say that they, or a family member, have lost a job, or not been hired, because an employer hired an immigrant. In fact, 34 percent of African Americans, as compared to 25 percent of Whites, say that immigrants take jobs from United States citizens.

Despite the concerns of many African Americans, the high unemployment rate endemic to their communities is not the consequence of immigration. Rather, its root cause, like the root cause of current mass migration trends, lies with the worldwide phenomenon called globalization. Through its domestic and international policies on trade, lending, aid, and investment, and its military policies and actions, the United States government and its corporations are the main promoters (and beneficiaries) of an unjust economic system that is negatively impacting poor people, locally and globally.

Since the 1970s, globalization has meant the de-industrialization of the United States, with union jobs in manufacturing being moved to low-wage countries in Latin America and Asia. More recently, it has meant the corporate outsourcing of jobs in the high tech and service industries. Add to that the historical employer biases against African Americans, the deterioration of the tax base due to White flight from inner cities, and the systematic public and private disinvestment in urban areas, and you have the formula for the devastation of Black communities across the United States.

The True Cost of Free Trade

A clear example of the bilateral and multilateral international policies of the United States that force migrants to risk their lives to come to the United States in search of a better life is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Ratified in 1996, NAFTA forced Mexico to open up its markets to subsidized food crops from the United States. As a result, 2.8 million Mexican farmers could not compete with cheap United States commodities and lost their land and their livelihood (according to the New York Times). Many of those farmers and their dependents have migrated to the United States, looking for employment.

Consequently, African Americans and immigrants of color are pitted against each other for the proverbial crumbs on the table. This competition is a result of the normal operation of an unjust economic system.

The United States is now attempting to impose a Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) on countries in the region. Similar, so-called free trade agreements are also being proposed or implemented in many countries in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean.

The United States media loves to show images of a few African Americans protesting “illegal immigration” with rightwing groups, such as the Minutemen. With classic, blame-the-victim logic, these misguided individuals have ironically cast their lot with modern day Ku Klux Klansmen.

So what are we to do? BAJI says that African Americans must join forces with immigrants to fight for economic and social justice for all.

A New Model for an Old Struggle

Unite Here Local 11 has set an important precedent for our struggle. In its latest settlement with the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, the 5,000-member, predominately Latino and immigrant union won a contract obliging the hotel to increase wages, maintain an employee health plan, and hire more African Americans. The victory is a model for negotiations with other Los Angeles hotels.

“The tensions between African Americans and immigrants will not be lessened until you increase the quantity and quality of jobs for African Americans,” says Steven Pitts, an economist at the University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. “It’s good that one industry is taking baby steps in that direction.”

Pitts maintains that African Americans would benefit if undocumented immigrants were granted legal status, citing recent studies, which show that legalization would improve wages and working conditions for both, immigrant and non-immigrant workers.

The African American struggle for civil and economic rights has never been waged without allies. Conversely, the struggle of immigrants for recognition of their human rights cannot be won without friends and supporters. If they join together, the two movements can take giant strides toward victories now and for future generations.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Special Visas for Battered Immigrant Women

In October 2000, President Clinton signed a bill authorizing temporary visas to immigrant victims of domestic violence who assist law enforcement personnel in investigating the crimes committed against them. Yet, over six years later, the law has never been implemented. Last week, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law filed a lawsuit in San Francisco against the Department of Homeland Security, challenging its failure to follow the law. We will be joined by Julie Dinnerstein, an attorney with NYC-based Sanctuary for Families, which is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit.


  • JULIE DINNERSTEIN is an immigration attorney with Sanctuary for Families ( an organization that offers a broad range of services including shelter, legal assistance, and counseling, to women and children in New York City.
To download MP3:

Immigration 2007: Raids and Reform?

In mid-December, raids at six Swift & Co. meatpacking plants led to the detention and busing away of some 1300 predominantly Latino workers—the largest workplace immigration raid in U.S. history. Immigrant advocates responded to the heavy-handed enforcement actions with renewed demands for a legalization program. For others, the raids only underlined the need for even stricter workplace databasing and enforcement of laws regulating immigrants—some say through temporary guestworker programs. Meanwhile, leading senators said they would debate immigration legislation in the new Congress. Veteran labor and immigration journalist DAVID BACON explains the meaning of the raids, and the likelihood that workers’ rights will be safeguarded in any legislation.


  • DAVID BACON is a former factory worker and union organizer. He is an associate editor for New America Media and a California-based photojournalist. His latest book, Communities Without Borders (Cornell University Press, 2006) documents immigrant communities, including those employed in the Swift plant in Omaha.

Listen to this segment (Download MP3):

Two families in need, two humane rescues

From Globe and Mail 17/03/2007

The fine quality of Canadian mercy has blessed two Iranian families stranded in separate purgatories this week. First, through the intercession of Immigration Minister Diane Finley, an Iranian couple and their Canadian-born son received temporary resident permits that secured their transfer from a Texas detention centre. Then the department accepted an Iranian woman and her two children as government-assisted refugees, ending nine months of precarious existence at Moscow's international airport. In a world of suspicion and peril, it is reassuring that Canada can still find room for legitimate political fugitives on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The plight of the family stranded in Texas was dire. Majid Yourdkhani and Masomeh Alibegi originally fled Iran in 1995 and sought asylum in Canada. In 1997, their son Kevin was born in Toronto. Eight years later, when their claim for refugee status was rejected, they were deported. On arriving in Iran, Mr. Yourdkhani maintains, he was taken away from his family to a prison cell for three months of brutal detention. On release, he tapped the services of a people smuggler. He and his family were taking a circuitous route back to Canada, using false passports, when the plane made an unexpected landing in the United States. Their ruse was detected, and the trio wound up in a spartan family detention centre.

The case for mercy became clear only when the U.S. government, which takes an exceedingly dim view of false passports, declared that it had sufficient reason to believe that the family faced a credible risk of persecution in Iran. With that corroboration, Ms. Finley acted, instructing her department to issue temporary resident permits. That is a rare ministerial action. Of the 13,970 temporary resident permits in 2005, only 433 were issued at the minister's direction. Now in Canada, the parents cannot ask for refugee status because they were rejected once. Instead, if they pass medical, criminal and security checks, they can apply to stay as permanent residents on humanitarian grounds.

The poor souls in the airport, Zahra Kamalfar and her children, had an even more traumatic saga. In 2004, Ms. Kamalfar and her husband Iman were arrested for political protests. He was killed while in police custody. A year later, Ms. Kamalfar, out of prison on a 48-hour pass, fled Iran with false travel papers, heading for Canada by way of Turkey, Russia and Germany. She was arrested in Germany, held for 13 months and then sent back to Russia. When Russia sought to deport her, the European Court of Human Rights put a stay on that order.

But Ms. Kamalfar was now in legal limbo. For 10 months, she and her children lived at the Moscow airport, relying on the kindness of Aeroflot officials for food vouchers, sleeping on the floor and bathing in public washrooms, virtual prisoners in a poignantly mobile world. Last December, after an investigation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees officially recognized her and her children as refugees. Because she has a brother in Canada, her lawyers appealed to Canadian authorities. Ottawa accepted her and her children as government-assisted refugees – there were more than 7,400 people in this category in 2005 – and issued temporary resident permits to enable them to leave immediately.

As one of the few nations that still accept immigrants, Canada always walks a fine line. It must somehow preserve its humanitarian openness while ensuring that its hospitality is not abused. There are so many desperate refugees, including the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have fled their homeland's violent war for sanctuary in neighbouring states. This week, in both cases, Ottawa made the right call, rescuing people who could never go home again and who had no prospects of a good life in their current situations. Such justice and mercy in a dangerous world are commendable.

"Mothers are Rounded Up in Massachusetts and Sent to a Texas Jail Without Saying Goodby to Their Families"

March 17 / 18, 2007

Jailing Immigrant Mothers in El Paso

"We are drawing attention to a humanitarian crisis," says Penny Anderson, speaking from a Saturday morning protest outside the El Paso immigrant jail (March 17). She is the first person to take the cell phone being passed around by activist Amber Clark.

Among the prisoners in the nearby 800-bed jail are about one hundred women flown in from New Bedford, Massachusetts following an immigration raid at a manufacturing shop. Immigration authorities have reported that 116 of the women, believed to be mostly from Guatemala, were brought here to the El Paso Service Processing Center (EPC) on Montana Street. Another 90 were reportedly taken to another immigrant jail in Texas.

"We have heard horror stories of women rounded up at work in Massachusetts and sent to jail in Texas without being given a chance to say goodbye to their families--children coming home from school and not knowing where their mothers were," says Anderson who is president
of the El Paso Borderlands Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Word of the raid reached the Borderlands Chapter from NOW national offices, explains Anderson. And several news reports have followed the response of Massachusetts officials. Last Saturday, Massachusetts social workers visited both jails in Texas and managed to get nine
mothers released on humanitarian grounds.

Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy visited New Bedford and described the situation as Katrina-like, with family members missing and nobody knowing where they were or if they were okay. The response of Massachusetts state workers and elected officials is an embarrassing contrast to the silence and inactivity that has accompanied news of Texas families rounded up by immigration authorities in recent years.

On Montana Street in El Paso Saturday morning, 20 protesters drew most of the local media, along with honks of support from passing cars, says Anderson. "The larger picture shows that current immigration system is broken," she says. "The Bush administration claims to be pro
family, but when they allow this to happen, it shows they are tearing families apart."

Joining the protest is Kathy Staudt of the Coalition against Violence toward Women and Families at the US-Mexico Border (CAV). "We see this as part the structural problem of violence against women," she says. "Many of the families affected by the immigration raid in
Massachusetts were in the US for five or ten years working at the factory. All of a sudden there was this raid. Women were sent away. And people were frantic to find out what happened to them."

CAV was formed in 2001 to address the issue of femicide in Juarez, where 370 women were killed between 2000 and 2003. "They think in Mexico there has been some limited institutional response to the issue, but many killers remain on the loose," says Staudt. "And Mexico is only recently taking violence against women as a serious issue at the national level."

Staudt says the problem of stopping violence against women in Mexico is made more difficult by a widespread distrust of police, because of a feeling that police are corrupt and can act with impunity.

As Staudt speaks we think of 20-year-old Suzi Hazahza and her sister Mirvat, two immigrant women rounded up with their family at gunpoint by Dallas immigration authorities in early November, 2006, now serving hard time at the Rolling Plains prison in Haskell, Texas, for the
crime of allegedly missing an appointment- an appointment they claim not to have known about.

"There is a whole structure of violence and lack of respect for women that transcends borders," says Staudt. It is a structure that the militarized posture of border enforcement will only continue to make worse.

Next at the cell phone is John Boucher of El Paso's Annunciation House. "We are a house of hospitality," he explains. "We work with undocumented immigrants in the area and with student groups in the USA. We have Catholic origins. I'm just a volunteer."

For Boucher, the treatment of Massachusetts workers is connected to what he sees closer to the border, "from the economic policies that force people to be displaced, continued in our country by a lack of acknowledgement that people who work cheap subsidize our lives." Boucher sees fewer undocumented workers crossing the border these days, but he sees evidence that "people are being forced into more desperate situations."

As the border is militarized, migrants are relying on paid help to get across. "Coyotes and smugglers are in the family reunification business, too," explains Boucher. "And their involvement makes crossing the border more dangerous for everyone."

With her cell phone returned, Amber Clark promises to email photos and media links.

"The treatment of the factory workers differs sharply from the treatment of the factory owner who had abused undocumented workers for years by underpaying and overworking them while reaping profits from lucrative government contracts," says a press release circulated by
Clark. "The factory owner is free on bail and was allowed to take a trip to Puerto Rico."

If an image of corrupt and arbitrary law enforcement is not actually what immigration authorities are trying to convey by their recent activities in Texas and Massachusetts, you'd be hard pressed to say why.


'No way' will Boisclair apologize for remarks

From Friday's Globe and Mail

QUEBEC — Parti Québécois Leader André Boisclair refused to apologize yesterday for referring to Asians as having "slanted eyes," even as he faced criticism from Asian-Canadian and other groups that the comments were offensive.

The Chinese Canadian National Council said Mr. Boisclair should withdraw his words, which it said were disrespectful and traded on caricatures. And a Montreal civil-rights group said the PQ Leader should apologize because the remarks betrayed "racial bias."

"It's a character issue," said Victor Wong, executive director of the council, which has members in Quebec. "You're aspiring to be premier, and aspiring to be premier of all of us. To refer to Asian students as having slanting eyes is offensive."

Mr. Boisclair said during a campaign speech to students on Wednesday that they would face growing competition from emerging powerhouses like India and China. He said he was struck by the large number of Asian students while he was completing his one-year master's degree at Harvard University in Boston.

Mr. Boisclair studied at the John F. Kennedy School of Government before running for the PQ leadership in 2005.

"I was surprised to see that on campus, about a third of the undergraduate students had slanted eyes," he said.

"They're not going to work in sweatshops. They're people who will later work as engineers, managers, and will create wealth. They're people who will innovate in their countries. There is ferocious competition in the world today."

The PQ has spent years trying to build bridges with ethnic minorities, who have traditionally backed the Liberal Party, and Mr. Boisclair has tried to make inclusiveness and tolerance one of his selling points since his election as PQ leader in 2005.

Yesterday, faced with repeated questions from reporters, Mr. Boisclair said he stood by his remarks and didn't understand why a fuss was being made, since he has used the "slanted eyes" phrase repeatedly in stump speeches in the past.

"There's no way I will apologize," he told reporters during a campaign stop in Quebec City. He said he used the expression because "these people are a source of amazement for me. I've been to Japan; they are my friends, my colleagues. No way I will apologize."

Asked why he was referring to the Japanese, when he had talked about Chinese students the day before, Mr. Boisclair said he meant students from various Asian countries.

Mr. Boisclair was speaking French to a classroom of university students when he referred to "yeux bridés," which translates as slanted or slanting eyes. He suggested yesterday the term might have a more negative connotation in English than in French.

"I'm doing politics, not linguistics," he said, adding that he believes "Quebeckers are 100 per cent behind me" on the issue. Even Mr. Boisclair's rivals said they think he did not intend any malice.

"He might have used a better choice of words, but I know Mr. Boisclair enough to know his intention was not to be disrespectful," Liberal Leader Jean Charest said.

The issue has become a distraction for Mr. Boisclair. While the French media have reported the comments, most of the questions yesterday came from English-language reporters.

Fo Niemi of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, a Montreal civil-rights group, said he was surprised to hear the remarks come from Mr. Boisclair, whom he considered a socially progressive leader from a new generation of Quebec sovereigntists.

Mr. Niemi said he called the PQ yesterday to simply alert them to what he considered the inappropriateness of Mr. Boisclair's remarks. But then he said the party's director of communications for the election campaign, Shirley Bishop, aggressively told him over the phone that she saw nothing wrong with the comment and blamed "people like you" for making racism an issue.

That's when Mr. Niemi said he decided to issue a news release condemning Mr. Boisclair's comments.

"It's a very derogatory remark and very racially offensive," Mr. Niemi said in an interview, adding that the comments were ill considered at a time when Quebec needs to increase ties with the economies of Asia and India.

Friday, March 16, 2007

From the Propaganda Machine

Bienvenue à Montréalistan


Une trentaine d'islamistes de Montréal considérés comme des terroristes potentiels sont «activement surveillés, filés ou écoutés» par la police, révèle le livre Montréalistan, qui paraît la semaine prochaine.

Considérés comme une menace potentielle à la sécurité du pays, ces radicaux montréalais sont suivis par des équipes de filature, filmés par des caméras cachées ou mis sous écoute électronique 24 heures sur 24.

Fort de son enquête de terrain, Montréalistan, publiée chez Stanké, le journaliste du Journal de Montréal Fabrice de Pierrebourg avertit les Montréalais qu'ils ont tort de se croire à l'abri du terrorisme.

«Toutes les composantes de l'islamisme radical sont présentes à Montréal, indique l'auteur. Bon nombre de personnages clés du terrorisme international islamique sont basés ou ont vécu à Montréal.»

Des idéologues charismatiques aux soldats exécutants, en pensant par des faussaires, des recruteurs de martyrs potentiels, des pourvoyeurs d'argent, etc.

Jusqu'à maintenant, les complots planifiés ici ont visé des cibles extérieures. La ville de Roubaix et le métro de Paris, en France, dans les années 1990. Et plus récemment, l'aéroport de Los Angeles, aux États-Unis, dont l'attentat avorté en 1999 a valu une peine de 22 ans de prison au Montréalais Ahmed Ressam.

L'énigmatique Fateh Kamel

L'auteur a aussi réussi à rencontrer d'inquiétants personnages vivant à Montréal. Parmi eux: Fateh Kamel, patron présumé d'Ahmed Ressam il y a quelques années. Kamel a joué un «rôle central dans la vague d'attentats terroristes» en France dans les années 1990, selon le Service canadien de renseignement de sécurité. Il a été décrit comme un «cadre de l'internationale de la terreur [...] dont le boss n'est autre qu'Oussama Ben Laden».*

De retour à Montréal depuis sa sortie de prison en France en 2005, l'homme condamné pour activité terroriste gagne sa vie au volant d'un taxi, sans être reconnu de ses clients montréalais.

Montréal, terre d'accueil

«Montréal est un havre, une base logistique pour planifier, préparer et financer des attaques terroristes, soutient le journaliste. On a le sentiment que personne ne nous veut du mal parce que nous, on se croit gentils.»

Mais ce n'est pas le cas, comme en fait foi un rapport «très discret» de la Gendarmerie royale du Canada, dont il a obtenu copie. «Pour l'année 2005, ils disent avoir perturbé 12 complots terroristes», rapporte M. de Pierrebourg.

La probabilité que le Canada soit la cible d'un attentat terroriste «augmente de jour en jour», selon les experts cités par le journaliste, qui a signé un reportage-choc sur les nombreux problèmes de sécurité à l'aéroport Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau, l'automne dernier.


D'ailleurs, l'enquête Montréalistan se veut un autre sérieux avertissement au niveau de la sécurité.

«Longtemps, les autorités politiques et judiciaires d'ici n'ont pas pris les radicaux au sérieux», souligne le Parisien d'origine, marqué par les attentats qui ont fait des dizaines de morts à Paris dans les années 1980 et 1990.

Un autre facteur: la langue française attire à Montréal plus d'immigrants francophones d'Afrique du Nord (Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie) que n'importe où au Canada.

Montréal: cible potentielle

Ironiquement, le fait que le Canada n'ait jamais été frappé en fait une cible d'une grande valeur médiatique. «Un attentat, c'est un show qui sert à attirer l'attention des médias du monde entier, rappelle l'auteur. Et Montréal est une grande métropole.»

Cinq ans après les attentats du 11 septembre 2001, la police de New York a encore un agent de surveillance à Montréal, selon lui. Elle en aurait posté un seul autre au Canada : à Toronto.

L'offensive du Canada en Afghanistan lui vaut d'être «de plus en plus cité dans les forums islamistes radicaux», selon l'auteur. Et le Canada fournit du pétrole aux États-Unis, contrariant ainsi Al-Qaïda en Arabie.

  • Montréalistan, 360 pages, aux éditions Stanké, sera en vente à partir de mercredi.

    * Tiré du livre Le Jihad en Europe d'Ali Laïdi et Ahmed Salam, éd. Seuil, 2002.

  • -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Portrait de 20 islamistes

    Brigitte McCann
    Le Journal de Montréal
    16/03/2007 05h21 - Mise à jour 16/03/2007 08h52

    Montréalistan dresse des portraits inédits d'une vingtaine d'islamistes radicaux de Montréal, au coeur de la menace terroriste.

    Qui sont-ils? Qu'ont-ils fait? Sont-ils dangereux? On découvre ces Montréalais à travers leurs démêlés judiciaires, leurs croyances religieuses et, parfois aussi, leurs propres témoignages issus de rares entrevues obtenues au prix de mois d'efforts.

    «Certains ont terminé leur peine de prison et sont en voie de revenir au Canada, d'autres y sont déjà», indique l'auteur Fabrice de Pierrebourg.

    Comme un roman policier

    Leur portrait est toutefois dressé sans complaisance: leurs points de vue sont souvent mis en contradiction avec ceux des autorités policières et judiciaires. Car la grande majorité des activistes rencontrés nient leurs activités terroristes, même quand elles leur ont valu une condamnation.

    Le récit se lit tantôt comme un roman policier, tantôt comme une introduction à la menace terroriste d'ici. Une menace troublante. Mais c'est aussi un premier Who's who (bottin) québécois des personnalités associées au «terrorisme».

    Fateh Kamel

    Rencontré d'abord au coin d'une rue du quartier Rosemont, Fateh Kamel, qui a toujours fui les médias, a accepté de se confier à Fabrice de Pierrebourg.

    L'auteur offre un gros plan unique de l'ex-condamné à huit ans de prison, en 2001 en France, pour avoir dirigé un réseau qui fournissait de faux passeports à des militants islamistes. Il n'aurait rien du «djihadiste avec longue barbe, cheveux hirsutes, les yeux remplis de haine prêt à bondir sur le premier Occidental venu».

    «C'est Richard Gere et Jésus-Christ réunis», en dit un de ses amis. Après avoir purgé une peine abrégée, le chauffeur de taxi de 47 ans de retour à Montréal s'avoue «tiraillé entre le souhait de vivre sa vie de citoyen ordinaire [...] et une volonté farouche de laver sa réputation».

    Celui que le Service canadien du renseignement de sécurité qualifie de «chef d'une cellule du djihad» ne digère pas le refus d'Ottawa de lui accorder un passeport, se décrivant comme «un travailleur humanitaire».

    Au sujet de ses années en prison, il dit : «L'être humain n'est pas fait pour être enfermé. Mais j'ai grandi. Je suis rentré comme une chenille, je suis sorti comme un papillon.»

    Long travail de confiance

    L'auteur a également rencontré Abou H., imam salafiste pur et dur, qui, de sa mosquée de la rue Jean-Talon, décrit les femmes québécoises comme des perverses et qualifie les Québécois non musulmans de «mécréants».

    Et il décortique le passé agité de Saïd Jaziri, imam aux prises de position très controversées, bien connu à Montréal, qu'il a aussi rencontré à maintes reprises.

    Il a de plus interviewé, durant un an, de nombreux enquêteurs, agents et fonctionnaires impliqués dans la lutte au terrorisme au Canada et en France. Là aussi, ce fut un long travail de confiance. «Tu ne peux pas arriver et dire: Donne-moi la liste des terroristes potentiels surveillés!», lâche-t-il.

    Fabrice de Pierrebourg a utilisé plus de 300 pages de documents confidentiels des services secrets canadiens au cours de son enquête. Ces documents, qui lui arrivaient souvent censurés et raturés, ont été obtenus en vertu de la Loi sur l'accès à l'information.