گزارش — ۱۲ مهر ۱۳۹۱

The Result of a Decisive Test

Majid Bastami

In evaluating the truth of scientific theories, philosophers of science, such as Karl Popper, speak of particular tests called Crucial Experiments. These types of experiments are serious criteria for a scientific theory in which if failed (or weakened), they cannot explain the results of the experiments. Uses for experiments such as these are mostly true for experimental sciences. However, it is nevertheless possible to employ them as a support in social-political evaluations as well. It is questionable whether there are suitable situations to examine the comprehensive claims and promoted values of this country. Is it possible to employ crucial experiments to ascertain the truthfulness of our claims regarding conforming Canadian values?

Omar Khadr vs. Lord Conrad Black

In the early months of 2012, two events took place during a short interval of time and created a combination that could be considered a crucial experiment to evaluate the actions of Canadian politicians, media, intellectuals, and public opinion regarding the so-called values we believe in. For most Canadians, the two icons are very familiar; they have both been in the top headlines during the last 5-6 years.

Omar Ahmad Khadr, born in September 1986 in Toronto, Canada, is a Canadian citizen from a noble Pakistani family. Due to his family’s spiritual and religious beliefs, his father’s in particular, he had been brought up exposed to constant ideological and combat trainings. He eventually joined the Taliban Militants during his adolescence. He was arrested at the age of 15 by American troops in Afghanistan and has been in prison ever since. Although it was a condition in his plea guilty agreement to return to Canada after spending a certain period of time in the US prisons and despite the fact that there is evidence indicating he was (kind of) tortured by the American Security Force in the prison, Khadr’s return to Canada is being held up. All of the prison reports show that he has been well-behaved in prison and has been continuing his education and attempting to keep a positive attitude. Although based on international laws he was a minor at the time of his presence in the Afghan military, and despite the failure of the State in all legal disputes against the Conservative government of Canada for the reason of not returning this Canadian citizen to his country, all possible efforts and officials are being employed to obstruct his return to the country. It is evident that they do not want him to spend the rest of his sentence in Canada as it could lead to the legal prosecution of the misbehavior by Americans during his time in American prisons. According to experts, there is a strong will to hold up his return to the country and it is not being denied by the Canadian government either. The government holds the view that Khadr is a war criminal and Canada is not willing to tolerate his presence in the country. Since the time of his arrest, Khadr has been in Guantanamo Bay Prison. In the case that he is released, he would be the last western citizen to leave that place.

On the opposite side is Lord Conrad Moffat Black, the previous world media giant, who was born in 1944 in Montreal. He used to be one of the most influential political, social and media features of this country. He was also convicted of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice in a US court. Retaining a powerful team of lawyers, his charges reduced to the minimum. Eventually by the approval of Immigration Canada, he was granted a one-year resident permit and was allowed to enter Canada and thus rejoined his family in Toronto on May 4, 2012. The reason for issuing such permission was that he refused his Canadian citizenship in 2001 and therefore needed to wait a period of time in order to be eligible to re-applying for a Canadian citizenship. Based on the opposite parties’ allegation, the processing time for examining and issuing the permission was one the shortest in the history of Immigration of Canada. The minister of immigration states that the decision was merely made by the bureaucrats and denies any political concerns regarding the case. In addition, Black denies any kind of a lobbying act. The unusual speed of the issuance of the permission however, as well as Minister Kenney’s aggressive response to the opposition party leader, Tom Mulcair, empowered the assumption that the issuance was strongly supported by the minister office.

How can this comparison be a valuable criterion?

Perhaps this question is raised between the comparisons of these two issues and whether or not selecting them as crucial experiments is an accurate choice. Omar Khadr however, confessed to some serious crimes while Conrad Black’s services to Canadians, specifically in developing the media and promoting freedom of speech in which he, himself could be one of the victims, cannot be ignored. Doesn’t this comparison assist in purifying the extremist Islamist and making his crimes appear less important? The point here is not to legally or ethically judge the actions of these two individuals. Those are still active issues which are constantly followed by Canadian judiciary systems, the parties, intellectuals and the media. The point here is to assess whether the treatment of these two individuals, Khadr in particular, has been receiving the conformed values that we all believe in.

Actions and Reactions

The actions of the conservative party as the government of Canada has been the strong persistence to get the conviction order from the Supreme Court of Canada for one individual and for the expediency of the other. The opposing NDP party has performed a strong protest against Conrad Black’s case in Parliament and questioned the double standards of the CIC by comparing the Black case with Gary Freedman’s. Gary Freedman is a black US citizen whose application for immigration to Canada was rejected due to his criminal record in the 60’s. Mr. Mulcair’s comparison encountered the irrelevant response by Jason Kenney; he angrily called Gary Freedman a cop killer, while stating that he is not. The NDP party however, preferred not to focus on Omar Khadr’s request as the party did not find enough public support for him. How is it possible, for a political party, to defend an individual who was among the troops of international terrorists, while in Canada there are still so many families who are mourning for their loved ones who died in the war against terrorists in Afghanistan?

Is it acceptable, indeed, to ignore the humanitarian and social duties of being a Canadian citizen? It seems that we have forgotten that these soldiers have lost their lives to protect these very core values. They fought against the enemy who brainwashed the immature children and turned them into killing machines. They went to Afghanistan to put an end to such behavior.

Canadian media has mostly been keeping its voice down regarding the way Khadr is being treated, and even implicitly defended the State. The media has also specified a distinctive coverage of Lord Black’s proud return to Canada, a person who refused his Canadian citizenship 11 years ago to become a member of the British House of Lords. His return to Canada is pictured by beautiful images of his presence among his families and friends, peace and comfort, and a Hollywood ending to a five year legal and media scandal.

The most dominating and notable reaction I personally noticed was on the Power and Politics program of the CBS network. Mark Steyn, famous Canadian writer and journalist, assertively stated that considering Kahdr a child soldier at the time of his criminal actions is only a “Canadian Standard”. Khadr’s past behavior reflects the belief of his parents who had known him as a mature man and had made him to do such things. So if anybody is guilty, it would be his parents and it is not the government of Canada’s job to accept Khadr’s return to Canada.

Here it seems that the whole analysis of crucial experiments has been driven to completion! Please pay close attention to Mr. Steyn’s argument: for a few minutes, suppose 15 year old Omar Khadr was a prisoner of a given Middle Eastern dictatorship and orders had been issued for his execution due to a crime such as murder or assault. In this case, that was not odd if we saw Mr. Steyn would have probably joined a campaign with the intention of pushing the given government to eliminate that penalty. In this case, the people in campaign would not have thought that the boy was only a child based on “Canadian Standards” and because according to laws of that Middle Eastern country in which 15 year-old individuals are considered mature, the order was not contestable. If this 15 year old Khadr had a dual citizenship and was born in Canada, the story would have been entirely different. The punishment would probably have been viewed as a kind of invasion of the Queen’s belongs and heavy penalties could have been asked against the other government. But now, when one of the conducting parties is Canada, and despite the Supreme Court of Canada’s verdict in favor of the accused, it is possible to ignore everything? Even disregard the priority of the contents of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom over other regulations and decisions made by the government?

Is it fair to allow one who committed criminal actions when he was a child to be deprived from his rights as a Canadian citizen, just because he was brought up in an extremist Muslim family? While the other one, definitely a white British lord, has been given the warmest welcome?

You can judge what the result of this crucial experiment has been.

It seems that we have forgotten that these soldiers have lost their lives to protect these very core values

Is it fair to allow one who committed criminal actions when he was a child to be deprived from his rights as a Canadian citizen, just because he was brought up in an extremist Muslim family?

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