I didn’t want to write this post today, but I can’t help it, I’m pissed off, and you should be too.
With all of the nonsense and turmoil going on south of the border, there is so much noise out there, that it’s already getting tough to listen. But I hope that you will listen to, and share this.
A Canadian citizen, with no criminal record, and no legal impediment to free movement around the world, has just been turned back from the U.S. border, because she is Muslim.
Fadwa Alaoui, just wanted to go shopping, in Vermont.
But the U.S. Customs, Border, and Homeland Security authorities turned her back, because she had Muslim prayers stored on her phone.
There are so many things wrong with this, that it’s hard to know where to start.
First of all, when the Travel Ban was issued, and there was much confusion over who, and what exactly it covered, the Canadian government sought clarification from U.S. authorities, regarding how the ban would impact Canadian citizens; including those with dual Canadian citizenship.
After some diplomatic stuttering, the U.S. assured our government that Canadian citizens — ALL Canadian citizens — would not be subject to this order. In other words, it was business as usual, and Canadians could continue to freely pass back and forth across the border in the normal fashion. INCLUDING, those, like Alaoui, with dual citizenship.
Not long afterwards, a Federal judge in the United States ordered a temporary halt to all procedures covered by the Executive Order, until the legality, and constitutionality of the order were determined by the U.S. Courts.
It didn’t matter whether the travellers were from the seven nations explicitly mentioned in the order: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, or from any other nation in the world, including Morocco, where Alaoui was born. The order was stayed by the courts, and for all intents and purposes was rendered ( temporarily at least ) null and void until further notice.
This legal order from the U.S. Federal court was in effect, when Fadwa Alaoui and her family decided to travel from their home in Quebec, to Vermont, to do some shopping.
Despite that, U.S. authorities stopped Alaoui anyway. They questioned her, and confiscated her cell phone under coercion. The unspoken threat was that if she did not voluntarily surrender her phone to the authorities, she would be turned away regardless of any specific violation that would make her ineligible to enter the U.S.
That there are American laws against such unreasonable search and seizure, or coercion, apparently meant nothing to U.S. officials at the border. Nor did the fact that a federal judge had issued an order specifically prohibiting these actions have any deterrent affect. Alaoui was denied entry.
Why You Should Care:
If a Canadian citizen can be denied entry, even when there are legal restrictions in place to deny arbitrary refusal by U.S. authorities, then it is clear that the United States is no longer a democracy. No longer a beacon of “Liberty and Justice for All”, as the American pledge of allegiance claims. No longer a nation that adheres to its own laws, or honours its commitments to its neighbours, international partners, and friends. No longer a nation that can be trusted.
Our best friend has just turned upon us, spit in our face, and given us an aggressive and muscular shove.
And what has the Canadian government done about that? Well, so far, nothing. Not as far as we know publicly, at least.
That, should piss you off.
At the very least, the Canadian government should react swiftly, and clearly, with an official diplomatic protest. Let them know that when the U.S. government makes a commitment, or promise to Canada, we expect them to honour it. That this kind of shit is not cool, and will definitely not fly.
In order to remind the Prime Minister, and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland of their obligations to stick up for Canadians, I dropped them both an email greeting urging them to take action. I sent a copy to my own MP, Filomena Tassi.
And, just for good measure, I sent a letter to the Attorney’s General of both the State of Washington, and the State of Minnesota.
Why you ask?
Because those two states are leading the federal battle against the Trump Travel Ban Order, in the United States. They are seeking to prove that the order is unconstitutional on several grounds; one being its attack on Freedom of Religion. If the Alaoui incident doesn’t clearly indicate that this order is about bigotry, and not security, then I don’t know what will.
What it does clearly show, is the effect this order will have not only on Canadians, but on Millions of people world wide, who have business, family, research, education, or just tourism, and shopping on their minds, when they travel ( or try to travel ) to the United States.
It is an anathema, and must be repudiated.
What Can You Do?
So I am asking you, good reader, to get involved. Write or phone your MP. Send an email to the Prime Minister, or Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. And if you want to, you can also urge Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell, and Minnesota State Attorney General Lori Swanson to keep up the fight.
Let them know how much Canadians care, and how angry we are.
After all — If you can’t tell your best friend when they’re out of line — then who will tell them?
Here’s the letter that I sent: and the links that you can use.
I am not a constituent, or resident of the State of Minnesota, Washington, or even the United States.
I am a Canadian citizen, but I want your office to know that your opposition to this executive order
is important, and relevant to me.
This is how.
Last Saturday, a Canadian citizen named Fadwa Alaoui, attempted to cross the border into Vermont from her home province of Quebec.
She wanted to go shopping.
Instead, she was asked for her personal views of President Donald Trump.
Her cell phone was taken and searched, under coercion. If she didn’t voluntarily surrender it, she would be denied entry.
In the end, she was turned back from entering the United States, because Muslim prayers were found on her phone.
Being a Muslim, is not a crime.
Prayer, is not a crime.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, as is protection from illegal search and seizure.
This woman, did nothing wrong. Has no criminal record. And her native land of birth: Morocco, is NOT included on the list of nations covered by the executive order.
The U.S. Government, through the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security, has given the Government of Canada assurances that Canadian citizens would not be subject to the executive order, issued by the Trump administration.
And yet, clearly, this is not the case.
It is my understanding that your office, along with the office of Washington State Solicitor General Noah Purcell, and 14 other States Attorney’s General are collecting evidence to demonstrate that this executive order is illegal, and targets a single religious group.
I think this is a clear example of what the order really means.
It is a xenophobic, racist decree issued not to protect the security of the United States in general, but to target those of Muslim faith.
You should know, perhaps, that I am not an adherent of the Muslim faith, and so this communication is not motivated by religious considerations.
It is motivated by the belief that traditional American values of Liberty, and Justice for All, are under attack, and in peril.
That fight, is not your fight alone, but the fight of every person, from every nation that believes in those values.
As our largest neighbour, closest friends, and biggest trading partners, what happens in the United States is critically relevant to the citizens of Canada.
I urge you, do not give up your fight to destroy this insidious attack upon the principals, and values on which your great nation was built.
In closing, I will include an internet link, to a media report concerning this particular incident, in the hope that it may lead you to useful evidence, in your laudable, and critical legal action.