Omar Khadr’s rights violated, government should do something: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada has just issued a ruling on the Omar Khadr case. Here’s the summary of the ruling, in the Court’s own words:

“The appropriate remedy in this case is to declare that K’s Charter rights were violated, leaving it to the government to decide how best to respond in light of current information, its responsibility over foreign affairs, and the Charter.”

So the Court is saying: Yes, Khadr’s rights were violated. We’re not going to order you (the government) to bring him home from Guantanamo, but we expect you to do something to fix this.
The court has also awarded costs to Khadr.

For anyone who’s interested, the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, part of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, was one  of the intervenors and supported Khadr’s case.

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Wearing niqab in France could cost up to $2,200

The French parliamentary report on the wearing of niqab and burqa in France is now online.

The report estimates there are 1,900 niqabis in France, of which:

  • 50% are under age 30
  • 90% are under 40
  • 66% are French citizens, half of which are 2nd and 3rd generation French
  • 25% are converts to Islam
  • 41% are Salafis

The report also:

  • repeats the myth that the niqab is a non-Islamic practice
  • attempts to study interpretations and evidences of niqab
  • suggests the wearing of niqab points towards identity issues and is a sign of radical movements
  • admits many young women wear the niqab by choice, primarily for two reasons: “the search for purity in practice of a more austere worship” and secondly “to create distance with a society considered to be perverted.”

There’s also an entire section on Salafism.

The report spends quite a bit of time studying niqab in various countries (north African as well as in the West), including Canada.

“In Canada, we have seen, this issue prospers on the exploitation of the judicial theory of ‘reasonable accommodation rights.’ We have noted though that this judicial notion is being questioned more and more in this country.”

It also discusses Quebec’s Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation and the Ontario court ruling on whether a woman can testify in court wearing niqab.

There’s a discussion on possible punishment for niqabis. The ideas discussed are:

  • a maximum fine of 1,500 euros ($2,245 Canadian) for the first offence and a maximum of 3,000 euros ($4,480 Canadian) for repeat offences
  • a mandatory course on “rights, history of the Republic, history of feminism and on religions”

Near the end, they try to figure out how they’re actually going to enforce prohibition. In the worst case scenario, if a niqabi refuses to identify herself, thus making it impossible to fine her, she could be taken to a police station and ordered to submit fingerprints and be photographed. If she refuses, she could be found guilty of an offence and fined 3,750 euros ($5,600 Canadian) and be thrown in jail for 3 months.

Tip: If you need translation help in reading the report, try Yahoo Babel Fish. It worked best for me.

UPDATE: The panel behind the report couldn’t agree on whether to call for a total ban on niqab or just ban niqab from public buildings and services, according to Reuters.

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Exclusive: Haitian Muslims seek refuge in mosques; “Everyone there has lost somebody”

Abdul Latif Veras, a resident of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is at the forefront of the Muslim relief effort for Haiti. He updates me on how Haitian Muslims are coping with the disaster and what’s being done to help them. He’ll be heading out to Haiti tomorrow (Thursday) once again with aid.

Interview with Br. Abdul Latif

There are an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 Muslims in Haiti.

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Heart disease alert for young people and South Asians

The Heart and Stroke Foundation has just released a report entitled A Perfect Storm of Heart Disease Looming on our Horizon (click for report in PDF). It says that the face of heart disease in Canada has changed and says there is an impending crisis.

Among the new high risk groups are young adults (in their 20s and 30s) and ethnic populations, such as South Asians.

The report on young Canadian adults:

Over the past 15 years, Canada has seen significant increases in overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. It used to be thought that like heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, were “diseases of aging.” These increases will translate into an explosion of heart disease in the next generation.

“There are more than 250,000 young Canadians in their 20s and 30s with high blood pressure. That’s something we could have never imagined a decade ago. It’s almost a doubling in 15 years,” says Stephen Samis. “The real tragedy is that this is largely preventable.”

On ethnic populations:

Research has shown that Canadians of South Asian and African-Caribbean descent are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke because of higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes. South Asian Canadians may be at particular risk as evidence suggests they may develop heart disease 5 to 10 years earlier than other ethnic groups. Provinces that currently have significant visible minority populations, such as B.C. (25%), Ontario (23%) and Alberta (14%) — and in particular major metropolitan, urban centres such as Vancouver (42%), Toronto (43%), Montreal (17%), and Calgary (22%) — are going to face a tremendous growth in the need for cardiovascular prevention and care as these growing populations age.

Time to cut down on the oil, ghee, salt and sugar.  Take it seriously folks.
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