Imam Said Jaziri, who will appear before the immigration board on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007.
The Al Qods mosque in northeast Montreal, where Said Jaziri practices as an imam
CTV.ca News Staff
A Montreal imam who allegedly lied about his criminal status will appear before an Immigration and Refugee board on Wednesday. His pregnant wife says he faces death if deported back to his native Tunisia.
"It's not just an impression I have, it's a certainty," imam Said Jaziri's Canadian-born wife, Nancy-Ann Adams, told reporters. "There's no doubt about it."
Jaziri was taken into custody Monday by Canada Border Services Agency officials, under the Immigration and Refugee Status Act.
The imam had gone to a meeting at one of the agency's offices, according to spokesperson Kareen Dionne. His wife -- who is eight-months pregnant -- witnessed the arrest.
"I have diabetes -- type 1 -- so this is dangerous for me and the life of my child," she told CTV Montreal by phone.
"My husband is not here. Who is going to care for me? Who is going to help me now?"
The imam will be held at a detention centre in Laval until he appears before the board.
Adams said Jaziri isn't a flight risk, and will be tortured to death if deported back to the country of his birth.
Dionne would not divulge details about Jaziri's case, but said that during Wednesday's hearing the agency will reveal why it thought his detention was necessary.
"Generally, the motives that are invoked to ask for the detention of an individual is based on the risk of that individual not showing up either for an audience review or for the removal process," she told The Canadian Press.
The board revoked Jaziri's refugee status last December, which he had obtained several years earlier in 1998.
Jaziri then took refuge inside the Al Qods mosque in northeast Montreal, where he acts as imam. He took the same action in 2005, when he first heard officials were trying to revoke his status.
The board alleges Jaziri never mentioned he had a criminal record in France, and that he exaggerated the risks he faces if he returned to Tunisia.
But Jaziri has said his criminal record was expunged after he helped French security forces, and the threat of torture and death in Tunisia is only too real.
He tried to reclaim his refugee status by taking his case to the Federal Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal, but those attempts have so far failed.
One of the members of his mosque, Mohammed Alaoui, urged Montreal's Muslims to throw their support behind Jaziri.
"He's a man who tells the truth, the whole truth," said Alaoui.
Jaziri, a well-known imam in Montreal, had planned on creating a massive mosque in the city.
Nearly two years ago, he led a local protest, criticizing cartoons that depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.
Muslims are strictly forbidden from illustrating Muhammad.