Imam giving up his bid to stay, lawyer says
The Canadian Press
October 18, 2007 at 3:55 AM EDT
MONTREAL One of the lawyers for a controversial Montreal imam says her client's impending deportation is purely political and his return to Tunisia next week seems unavoidable.
Nawal Benrouayene said the legal battle is likely over for Said Jaziri.
Mr. Jaziri appeared yesterday before an Immigration and Refugee Board commissioner who deemed him a flight risk after a nearly four-hour hearing.
She ordered the Muslim cleric detained until his scheduled deportation on Monday.
Ms. Benrouayene said there was some talk of asking the federal government for a special decree to stop the deportation, but since the decision is political, they aren't likely to get any help.
“Mr. Jaziri has no confidence left [in the system], he's discouraged and doesn't want to continue the process,” Ms. Benrouayene said.
The deportation order created chaos in the tiny hearing room as members of his mosque erupted in anger at the decision.
Mr. Jaziri and others shouted “injustice!” as Nancy-Ann Adams, the cleric's Canadian-born wife, burst into tears. Ms. Adams, who is seven months pregnant, had to be helped from the hearing room.
Mr. Jaziri told commissioner Dianne Tordoff that he was open to returning to Tunisia, but hoped to spend his final days with his wife and tying up his affairs.
A retired pensioner, an unemployed man and a student vouched for him, and the community raised nearly $10,000 to try to secure his release.
“Long live Canadian racism,” Mohamed Rahmaoui yelled after the decision. He had pledged up to $15,000 despite being a full-time law student.
“It's a political decision. It's a message to the [Muslim] community. Muslims are suffering in Canada,” Mr. Rahmaoui said.
Ms. Adams had promised $10,000, but Ms. Tordoff said Mr. Jaziri hadn't demonstrated that he would follow through considering that he had already once barricaded himself inside his mosque.
Mr. Jaziri started a hunger strike last Monday, which Ms. Tordoff described as the action of a man dissatisfied with the federal government.
Mr. Jaziri has said that he will be tortured in Tunisia because he has political opponents in his native country.
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