Racist comments on stranded Canadian troubling

By MURPHY BROWNE

If anyone has any doubts about the level of anti-African racism in this country they only need to read some of the posted comments in the White daily newspapers in response to the plight of Suaad Hagi Mohamud.

From the first time her story appeared on July 1, there have been several White supremacist, rabidly racist comments. The first article, which appeared in the Toronto Star, garnered 83 comments, many of them blatantly racist, vilifying all Africans.

It is obvious that many White Canadians have no clue that Africans have been living in this country for as long as White people have been living here. These ignoramuses have no knowledge of African-Canadian history. This is a serious lack in the education system.

In spite of the information in the Star article that Mohamud is gainfully employed, the postings were rife with comments about refugees and immigrants on welfare when the reality is that there are more White welfare recipients than any other group.

The silence of the opposition MPs to the Canadian government’s handling of this African Canadian citizen’s mistreatment is shameful. Not a word from the Federal NDP or Liberals in response to the Harper Conservative government’s abandonment of a Canadian citizen. The reaction was very different in the case of the White Canadian woman who was convicted of a crime and imprisoned in Mexico.

In the case of Mohamud, she has not committed any crimes but was treated as though she had done so. The sequence of events that led to Mohamud being marooned in Kenya for three months reportedly began when she went to Kenya to visit her ailing mother, intending to stay for two weeks. When she went to the airport to board the plane for her return flight on May 17, she was prevented from boarding because, according to Kenyan immigration officials, her face did not match the photograph on her four-year old Canadian passport.

At the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, (Kenya’s capital) Mohamud produced other identification documents, including her Ontario driver’s license, OHIP card, social insurance card and Canadian citizenship certificate. She also had a credit card, bank cards, Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum card, Humber River Regional Hospital Card and a recent dry-cleaning receipt from Bright Cleaners on Lawrence Avenue West.

Common sense would make someone think that if the woman was an imposter she would hardly have something as mundane as a recent dry-cleaning receipt in her possession. Mohamud even had a letter from her Toronto employer, ATS Courier, with information about a recent promotion. None of these documents swayed the officials, who apparently agreed with the Kenyan airport officials that “her lips were different”.

These “highly qualified” government officials decided that she was an imposter because, to them, her lips did not match the photograph in her passport. What an inane reason to give for accusing anyone of being an imposter. The staff at the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi not only agreed with the Kenyan officials but they confiscated and voided Mohamud’s passport. This left her stateless and vulnerable to abuse. She was arrested and jailed by the Kenyan authorities and was only released when her bail of $2500 (U.S.) was paid.

Desperate to prove her identity and return to her Canadian home and her 12-year-old child who was staying with friends while she went on what was supposed to be a two week trip to visit her mother, Mohamud asked the Canadian government representatives in Kenya to take her fingerprints and match them with her fingerprints that were taken years earlier when she had applied for Canadian citizenship. That was no help because copies of those old fingerprints could not be found (apparently, long destroyed.)

So this Canadian citizen, abandoned by her government, was left in limbo because she had no legal status in Kenya and Canada denied any knowledge of her citizenship. Relatives, friends and colleagues in Toronto vouched for her after speaking with her on the phone. As the apparent mystery deepened, questions were asked of the authorities in Canada, including: Is the real Suaad Mohamud missing? Who is the arrested woman? Canadian officials reportedly refused to answer these questions.

As I followed the mysterious goings on, I wondered why the Canadian authorities were not forthcoming with answers to these very simple questions. Surely CSIS or whatever government body solves such mysteries could scope out the real identity of this woman who the government bureaucracy claimed was an imposter or find the real Suaad Mohamud.

Since the fingerprint idea did not work, the next step suggested by Mohamud’s team was DNA. After all, she did have a 12-year old-child in Toronto. The DNA samples were taken from Mohamud, her child and her ex-husband and on August 10, it was confirmed that the DNA samples proved that she was indeed Suaad Hagi Mohamud because the child in Toronto is her son.

So Suaad Hagi Mohamud, who left Toronto on April 29, 2009 to visit her mother in Kenya, returned to her home in Toronto on August 15, 2009 after the harrowing ordeal of being abandoned by her government. (which has probably caused her physical, emotional and spirit injury.)

What would have been this woman’s fate if she did not have a child in Toronto? How could she have proven her identity in the face of the blatantly racist mistreatment by Canadian bureaucrats?

The mindset of the people who govern Canada is mirrored in the many racist rants posted in the comments section of the White daily newspapers.

tiakoma@aol.com

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