More than a decade afterthe events of 9/11,racial discrimination against brown-skinned peopleis alive and well here in the West, as evidenced by an absurd case in Canada last month that should have you shaking your head in disbelief.
Saad Allami, a telecommunications sales manager and Canadian citizen of Moroccan descent,says he was improperly arrested by Quebec policeand accused of being a terrorist for giving staff “a pep talk […] about ‘blowing away’ the competition.”
In alawsuit he has filedagainst the Procureur General (attorney general) of Quebec, the Surete du Quebec (Quebec police) and the arresting officer, Sgt. Jayson Gauthier, Allami – who manages 2,000 sales reps in seven countries – says “he was illegally arrested and detained on January 24, 2011” after texting the phrase in question in advance of a trade show in New York City. Further, the suit says he “was absurdly and wrongfully accused of being a terrorist, and suffered financial, psychological and moral damages, and significant damages to his reputation.” He isseeking $100,000 in damages.
What’s more, Allami, who was arrested on the street three days after he sent histhreateningmessage to about 30 reps, didn’t even use the phrase “blow away.” Rather, the complaint says, the word he used was ‘exploser‘; it was an anodyne term commonly used in the industry, meaning we are going to make our venture ‘take off’ ‘succeed’ ‘grow’, ‘triumph’…
“The SQ concluded, without any evidence whatsoever, without making any inquiries, or doing any research, that the plaintiff intended to commit an act of terrorism or had recruited people to commit such an act; they handcuffed the plaintiff, took him to the police station, and held him overnight, without reason and without proof, illegally and in violation of his fundamental rights,” says the complaint.
But the injustice and humiliation didn’t stop there. In his complaint, Allami says while he was locked up, four or five officers “invaded” his home “and conducted an intrusive search that lasted about four hours.” He said while there, one officer “kept repeating to the plaintiff’s wife that her husband was a ‘terrorist.'”
Allami maintains he has nothing to do with any Islamic organization, period, let alone one of the fringe groups responsible for attacking innocent civilians around the world. Moreover, he says – rightly – that the arrest and false accusation has been a disaster for him professionally.
“(H)is colleagues, having learned of the incident, no longer wanted anything to do with him; M. Allami could not return to the same work; in fact, he has found it difficult to find any work at all since the incident,” says the complaint, adding that a number of his friends were held at the U.S.-Canadian border and questioned “on account of the false accusations against him.”
Terrorism is a very real threat, but a greater threat to liberties and freedoms is allowing fear – or a quest for more power – circumvent those most basic of human rights, all in the name of “security.”
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