POLITICS

Brad Wall's Refugee Idea 'Irresponsible:' Islamic Social Services Association

11/17/2015 01:51 EST | Updated 11/17/2016 05:12 EST
REGINA — About 75 refugees, immigrants and Canadians stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the Saskatchewan legislature Tuesday in protest of comments made by Premier Brad Wall.

Wall called on the federal government Monday to suspend a plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by year's end. The premier said he's worried that fast-tracking refugee claims could undermine the screening process.

Fartun Mohamud held up a sign at the legislature that said ``Brad Wall does NOT speak for me.''

Mohamud says Wall's comments cast an unfair image on refugees.

"I find that Premier Brad Wall, what he said, it was kind of perpetuating the cycle of hatred that's already in the media for immigrants and refugees, putting them in the light as terrorists or just not enough positive light,'' said Mohamud, who immigrated to Canada in 2006 from South Africa.

Maria Aman was three when her family fled a war in Eritrea, in east Africa. She arrived in Regina 22 years ago as a refugee and says her family was welcomed with love and compassion.

Aman says the comments made by the premier spark fear.

"I think it could definitely paint some negative things about the people and just preconceived ideas of who they are before we actually meet them, before they have a chance,'' said Aman, who held up a sign that read "Hate can not drive out hate!''

"I think that's the biggest problem here. It's not about what he said, it's about the feelings coming into that.''

Wall said Canada should take in refugees, but security should be "first and foremost'' the concern for the provincial and federal governments. He also said it doesn't make sense for the process to be driven by a deadline and a quota.

Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Services Association, says the suggestion by Wall to suspend the plan is irresponsible and a "knee-jerk reaction to the attack in Paris.

Siddiqui notes that Wall didn't raise concerns before gunmen and suicide bombers killed at least 129 people in the French capital Friday night.

She said many coming to Canada are children or elderly fleeing violence.

"They are coming here because they have no other choice and they're coming for sanctuary, so what kind of sanctuary are we going to provide if we are going to be constantly looking at them with suspicion? How are we hoping to have a healthy integration?,'' Siddiqui said in a phone interview from Winnipeg.

Wall's comments also undermine the Canadian system, she said.

"I want to know what evidence he is basing it on and why suddenly we are questioning our refugee and immigration process and personnel when we never did before.''

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