THE BLOG

Omar Khadr: Canadian or Second Class Citizen?

09/29/2012 06:40 EDT | Updated 11/29/2012 05:12 EST
CP

The arrival of Omar Khadr on Canadian soil was long overdue. It is the right thing to do and justice has finally been served. This saga has put our values and principles to the test.

Many people have cried out loud to ban him from the country altogether. They were willing to abandon our judicial system and throw our values in the garbage bin. Their personal views and prejudice has blinded them from treating the case with a sense of balance, objectivity, fairness and justice.

His faith and the ethnic community he belongs to did not help him either to win sympathy in the wider society or even from his own government. To be a Muslim these days is double jeopardy. It is a crime itself in the public arena where you are convicted beyond reasonable doubt and you are guilty until proven otherwise.

If the exact scenario surrounding this young man was applicable to another child who belonged to a different culture, the perception might have been quite different. If he for instance was the son of the Prime Minister or the cousin of the Governor General, we would have witnessed a different movie altogether.

The same people who are advocating for closing the doors on him would have changed the tone altogether. They would have protested day and night to make sure justice is served. They would have portrayed him as a young child who deserves sympathy from everyone. A child is a child, they would have argued.

These people who are upset to see the government's move to bring him back to Canada should learn to accept the reality of our system. The system should be applied the same to everyone whether the person in question is someone we like or not.

If they still find it difficult to accept the reality of having the government fulfilling its obligation towards one of its citizens, then they can try to get help from therapists to overcome the difficulty they are going through.

They can train their minds into believing that the young man is not Omar Khadr. He is rather Joseph Smith and is their relative who is caught in difficulty abroad. Once they train their minds to have a different perception of him, their psychological trauma will settle down. They will be able to reconcile the difficulty they are having and they will treat him like everyone else.

What this young man has gone through leads me to question whether I am still considered a real Canadian. If I, or someone like myself, go through an ordeal overseas, would I be looked at differently by my fellow Canadians and treated like someone who doesn't really belong here?

Learning from the Omar Khadr saga, I am fearful and uneasy. In spite of been granted citizenship, I feel that I am somehow judged as someone else -- perhaps a second class citizen.

The only reason why this young man got the treatment he got from the government and also the general public is due to being different. In spite of his citizenship and being born here did not help him get a fair share of the system.

I wish we wouldn't lie to each other anymore. We should not keep each other in the dark. We should develop a more transparent system to reflect the reality of who we are and where we stand when it comes to our sense of belonging.

Perhaps there should be first class, second class and even third class Canadian citizenship. At least we would know who we really are and each person would know what to expect. I am neither a supporter of this young man nor a fan of the extreme ideology of al-Qaeda. As a matter of fact, al-Qaeda has murdered more Muslims than anyone else. They don't even consider me as a true Muslim.

I am pro justice and fairness. That is why I crossed miles and oceans to come to Canada because of its system that is based on justice and freedom. But I am greatly disappointed the way this lad has been treated all along. I feel that there is a lot that need to be done to overcome prejudice and to be able to live up to our own principles which have built this country and made it envy to the entire world.

People come here not because of what Tim Horton's has to offer; not to watch hockey or listen to Celine Dion. They have made Canada their own home due to the judicial system that we have. This Khadr saga has shown our hypocrisy which we should all be ashamed of. While we sing the slogans of equality, such words did not show any significant meaning towards this man who deserved fairness irrespective of who he is or the faith he belongs to.