Friday, January 16, 2004

Remember Maher Arar?

Jeanne at Body and Soul makes some very good points in this post about Maher Arar.

Who, you may ask? A quick informal poll of my housemates gave me a "Familiar" and a "No Idea" on his name. (Although it gave me hope that the name "Scott Peterson" illicited the same responses.) As his name has gone down the news media memory hole, let me remind you.

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was deported to Syria, a nation known for being torture-friendly, because of a suspected connection with a man named Abdullah Almalki, another Canadian citizen who is still languishing in a Syrian prison.

The huge connection that warranted his deportation by the United States? This other guy, who is allegedly an al-Qaida suspect (although the evidence against him seems to be that he...gasp...travelled to Malaysia) apparently signed Arar's lease as a witness in 1997. Arar needed a person in a pinch, and asked Almalki's brother, who wasn't available and sent Almalki instead.

That's it.

For this Maher Arar is sent to a country where we know he will be tortured. And he is tortured repeatedly. Read this account of his stay.

Charles Manson didn't get this kind of treatment. Hell, to use an example of someone who's not an American citizen, Ferdinand Marcos didn't get this kind of treatment.

Imagine if an American citizen were, say, passing through France on their way back home and something like this happened to them. Do you think their name would have fallen down the memory hole? I suspect there would have been two book deals and a Made-For-TV movie by now.

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