Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Identity Crisis

Do you have a passport? Is it more than a couple of years old? Have you looked at the picture of yourself in that passport lately? Do you look the same now?

This is Suaad Mohamud Haji (also written elsewhere as Suaad Haji Mohamud). She travelled to Kenya for a two week visit with her mother who was ill and had planned to come home, to Toronto, in May. Instead, she was prevented from returning and jailed, because she didn't look like her passport photo taken over 4 years ago.

Mohamud was prepared to fly home May 17 when a Kenyan airport official challenged the photo. Nobody has suggested the passport is fake, she said, just that she doesn't look like the picture.

She showed two other pieces of photo ID, her Ontario driver's licence and OHIP card, along with her Canadian citizenship card, bank card and credit card, copies of which she also provided the Star.

But the Kenyans sent her to jail. A friend bailed her out and for five weeks, she says, she has tried to get the Canadian High Commission's help.

Now, one might be tempted to say the system in Kenya is the problem. Corruption, etc, is the issue. Fair, but in that event, what would you expect your government to do if this was you?

"I phone them (Canadian High Commission) three times again today and nobody calls me back."

She faces a court hearing July 21 and fears being jailed again if Canada doesn't vouch for her, she said.

Those quotes are taken from a story published on July 1st. Since then, things have gotten worse. They won't accept all the ID she's provided, so now she's gone a step further.

If a passport, driver's licence, OHIP card and citizenship certificate are not enough, Suaad Hagi Mohamud is ready to give fingerprints to prove who she is.

"When I applied for Canadian citizenship, they took my fingerprints," the Somali-born woman said yesterday by phone from Nairobi, where she is out on bail pending trial.

"They can match them."

Of course they could. Of course they should. Canada could actually do what any democratic country should do for it's citizens and provide this information to Kenyan authorities, while insisting that they follow the very least.

But no. I keep forgetting that this is not the Canada that I know. This is not the Canada that made a name for itself defending human rights, protecting it's citizens and setting an example for the world. No, this is Harper's Canada now. A country that decides which citizens it will defend based on.....what? I'm not clear.

It's tempting to say skin colour, it's also tempting to say religion, but when you look at the list of who Canada seems to assist, no one profile fits. No, there is something more here. Ideology seems to have the most comfortable fit.

An ideology that seems to see terrorism where it is suggested, but not guilty until proven innocent...Khadr. An ideology that sees justice through 'an eye for an eye' lens...Smith. An ideology that rejects pacifism and moral conscience...Iraq war resisters.

In this case, I haven't sorted it out, but suffice it to say that Canada is once again turning it's back on a citizen without providing any rationale.

Last week, Ottawa issued a single terse sentence: "Following an extensive investigation, officials at the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi have determined that the individual arrested by Kenyan authorities is not Ms. Suaad Mohamud Hagi."

For reasons stubbornly not explained, a doubt raised by a Kenyan airport official as the woman prepared to fly home after a visit has somehow escalated into Canada's rejection of her identity.

Canadian officials have refused to answer questions central to the mystery: Is the real Suaad Mohamud missing? Who is the arrested woman? Why does Canada disbelieve her story? Why can't fingerprints be taken?

There are many in this country who will vouch for her identity, but apparently that is irrelevant. Imagine how various communities across this country are feeling? Canada, was chosen by so many as a safe haven in the best sense of the term. I suspect many are re-thinking that...including me, who was born here.

This story needs more exposure, so if you can pass it on, I think there is a 12 year old boy that would be very grateful, if it means he'll see his Mom again.


Anonymous said...

You would think that the Kenyans would be glad sto let her go home, so they won't have to look after her..why they want to keep her is odd

Anonymous said...

"No, this is Harper's Canada now. A country that decides which citizens it will defend based on.....what? I'm not clear.

It's tempting to say skin colour, it's also tempting to say religion"

You just said skin colour and religion, don't be disingenuous. Immigration is much higher under Harper than any of his Liberal predecessors and still you are calling him racist? Get out of my country, ugly race hustler. We've had enough of you insulting Candians. Remember how shabbily the Liberals treated William Sampson - we do. Lots of Canadians have passport hassles, we don't suggest our country - which actually has quotas for people of colour in the workplace - is racist.

Ugly. Ugly ugly ugly. Your party is vicious, nasty, and ugly, and we'll take that to the people.

Anonymous said...

"Immigration is much higher under Harper than any of his Liberal predecessors"


A Canadian woman being abandoned by the Harper government and isolated from her son is a "hassle"? Is that an example of the Harper government's competency?

KNB isn't attacking Canada, she is questioning the priorities of the Harper government specifically, even making the point that the decisions of priorities on protecting its citizens abroad seem to go BEYOND race and religion and instead seem to be decisions of ideology.

It may sound ugly to Harper apologists like yourself, but asking tough questions is a responsibility of a citizens in a Democracy. That's how it works.

So, no, not ALL of us have had enough of KNB's efforts. Some of us are glad folks like this are out there holding the government responsible.

You don't speak for me, anonymous. I'm not sure who you represent.

penlan said...

Anon @1:57 a.m. wrote:

"Lots of Canadians have passport hassles, we don't suggest our country - which actually has quotas for people of colour in the workplace - is racist."

Just by saying "our country actually has quotas for people of colour in the workplace" IS rascist. If rascism doesn't exist here then why is it necessary to have quotas for the workplace? That reveals that employers have to be FORCED to hire people of colour or they wouldn't do it. Not all, mind you, but many. So yes, rascism does abound here as you just proved in that statement.

I find it puzzling that our Foreign Affairs is not allowing the fingerprints to be taken & compared. This govt. is sounding more & more like a dictatorship - with General Harper as the Dear Leader.

KNB said...

Anon @1104. Corruption isn't out of the question here.

KNB said...

Look anon @1:57, when you come here, you are at my place.

Your rants are baseless and obviously designed to provoke. They don't. They just highlight your idiocy.

You want to debate my views? Fine. You want to rant like a loon? Go find some equally shallow people...because at my place, I choose who will stay and who will go.

KNB said...

Joseph, thanks.

KNB said...

penlan, the fingerprint story doesn't make sense does it? I mean, how simple would that be?

RuralSandi said...

Harper, Day, Nicholson, et al keep saying "on a case by case basis"....records and facts don't matter?

This Anon trolling the blogosphere is so childish he/she thinks blaming Liberals and everyone else still counts - duh....Harper's been PM for over 3-1/2 years now - HE wears it.

Hannah said...

The Conservatives are a selfish party with largely ignorant and misguided views and its terrible how they turn their backs on fellow Canadians who are in situations like this woman. Terrible.

Thanks to Harper and his drones, we also have one of the worst approaches to the environment and battling climate change.

Time for a new government!

sjw said...

This happens to black people all the time at border check points. As a matter of fact, it has happened to my partner just about every time we've travelled. Both entering other countries and returning home to Canada. She will get questioned about her employment. She will get asked whether she is an immigrant to Canada. She has been asked why her hair is a different style in her passport compared to the way she is currently wearing it. She has been asked if she has children. She has been asked why she doesn't have children. She was held up by Canadian Customs one time as the twit of an agent thought she was a Jamaican attempting to illegally enter the country. I could go on, but you get my drift. Is it racist? Of course it's racist. Good old fashioned institutionalized and systemic racism. Happens everyday and it isn't going to stop anytime soon. Anons like the one at 1:57 have no clue what it is like to be targeted because of the colour of their skin. Just like American Express membership, being white in the western world has its privileges.

sjw said...

After rereading that I would point out I didn't mean to suggest that what has happened to Suaad Mohamud Haji happens to black people all the time at border crossings. Replace first word "This" to "Shit".

Anonymous said...

Anon,11:04 if anyone is ugly it is you. Shame on you for calling someone that is stating facts regardless of your sick views. Fingerprints and other form she showed of Id's that are legal is prove enough even for your dictator Harper. Take your blinders off anon, it makes you look bad, very bad.


Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, Stephen Harper doesn't stand at our entry points and examine passports.

These systems are put in place to stop those who would give their passport to a friend who might look similar in order to try to get them into the country illegally because they wouldn't otherwise qualify, or want to spend the time, waiting for refugee status.

Let's face the facts here, have you ever seen someone with a fake ID (i.e. someone else's driver's license) that looks similar to them? It's very plausible.

The fact of the matter here is that CBSA (@penlan which operates under Public Safety not DFAIT) will deal with the matter as per the regulations and policies that they have set out for passport challenges.

If it happens that there has been a mistake made by the security agencies, and the government is made aware of them, I'm sure that they will act appropriately.

This article is disingenous, and poorly thought out.

KNB said...

Your comment isn't thought out at all.

You are ignoring the deplorable inaction of our government and comparing this case to someone with a forged ID? Ha!

It never ceases to amaze me how some will dream up anything to defend this incompetent government.

Hopefully the courts will set this government straight, yet again.

Anonymous said...

The fake ID example is exactly what this case is. The possibility that someone could have permitted an acquaintance (or worse, sold to someone) the use of their ID to illegally enter the country. Especially in a high risk country/zone.

And it isn't a defence of the government, it is a defence of the civil service seeing as they are the ones who administer our border security. And they tend to do so in a competent manner.

If it is your humble opinion that the government should intervene with the non-partisan operations of the civil service on a regular basis then you likely have no conception of how government actually operates.

PS. The article you linked in your response also stated why they can't use fingerprints as ID. But then again, when do we hold political bloggers to any degree of integrity?

KNB said...

I saw the finger print comment and was glad for the explanation...though still will wait to hear if it holds up.

As to the non partisan civil, if you don't think that the government has a say in their ultimate stance, well I don't know what to say.

We've had ample proof of that. Abdelrazik ring a bell?

As to the question of integrity, coming from an anonymous commenter...

Anonymous said...

Abdelrazik was handled by CSIS, and their information is passed through the minister of public safety and quite probably the minister of international affairs. Cases like Abousfian Abdelrazik or Mohamed Harkat don't follow the same procedural steps as a passport challenge. The government absolutely has a say when the question is about highly classified national security issues, but probably doesn't get a briefing note about a lady who might be pretending to be someone else (which is unclassified).

This is to say that your comment was a red herring.

And it's probably saying something about your blog moreso than me that an anonymous commenter is clarifying your horrific oversights and lack of general understanding.

You should say thank you.

KNB said...

Say thank you?

Oh dear. I was under the impression that you were awake and weren't still dreaming.

Seriously. You've been a good employee, did your google search on Suaad Mohamud Haji, to see who was talking about it, then went about trying to discredit them.

Let's wait for the decision shall we? What time does it come out btw?

Dr.Dawg said...

Your most recent anonymoid is creating so much smoke and wind that I almost suspect s/he's from Foreign Affairs.

If fingerprints are conveniently unavailable for a match, there's always DNA. But Abdihakim Mohamed, also stranded in Kenya, in his case for three years, by Foreign Affairs, has offered his, and been given the brush-off.

Racism is the only explanation. But don't take my word for it. Check out Gar Pardy's comments on the Abdihakim Mohamed case. He formerly headed up Consular Services at DFAIT.

That department needs disinfectant.