POLITICS

Syrian Refugee Plan Could Block Montrealer's Attempt To Reunite With Brother

11/24/2015 12:15 EST | Updated 11/24/2016 05:12 EST
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Syrian refugees arrive on a fishing boat from Turkey on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos , as a helicopter from the European border control agency Frontex flie , Sunday Sept. 27, 2015. More than 260,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in Greece so far this year, most reaching the country's eastern islands on flimsy rafts or boats from the nearby Turkish coast.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A Montreal man says the federal government's plan to exclude single males from its Syrian refugee plan could thwart his plan to bring to bring his brother to Canada. 

Chadi Alhelou, who moved from Syria to Montreal five years ago, is also hoping his mother will join him here.

"It will affect my brother," said Alhelou, who was nonetheless willing to be patient in the hopes his brother will eventually arrive. 

"For the moment I can understand this decision."

The CBC's Rosemary Barton reported over the weekend that unaccompanied men will not be given asylum due to security concerns. 

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair criticized the policy on Monday, saying it wasn't appropriate to "make a vast generalization about a category of refugees and exclude them ahead of any processing because of who they are."

'Many prejudices'

For his part, Alhelou told CBC Montreal's Daybreak Tuesday concerns sparked by the Paris attacks should not dictate Canadian policy.

"Unfortunately, there are many prejudices concerning refugees,"  he said.

"Syrians are not terrorists. Syrians have problems because of terrorists. We need to distinguish this."

Montreal human rights lawyer Buschra Jalabi also questioned the policy, saying Canada has legal obligations to uphold and rejecting people on the basis of gender and marital status is a questionable policy. 

"I think this is a worrisome sign," Jalabi said.

"Don't forget the overwhelming majority of systematically tortured people are men."

"A refugee is an individual — not a man or a woman — who has a well-founded fear of persecution. We have to stick to that and get away from the politics of fear and discrimination."

Policy questioned

The two are not the lone voices decrying the policy. 

Paul Clarke of the Quebec group Actions Refugiés agreed that single men are often subject to the most serious threats.

"In our society, we have this notion of a sinking ship, of women and children first," he said.

"But at the same time, in our work with sponsorship, we've come across a lot of single males who do need protection, because they truly are refugees."

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