January 29 - National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Islamophobia
Protest Against Islamophobia in the CBSA
WHAT: Nationwide Protests Against Islamophobia In The CBSA
WHERE / WHEN: Saturday, January 29, 2022
Vancouver - 1:30 pm PST - CBSA Office (300 St George St, Vancouver, BC)
Toronto - 2 pm EST - Minister Marco E. L. Mendicino Constituency Office (511 Lawrence Avenue West, Toronto)
Ottawa - 2 pm EST - Ministry of Public Safety (269 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa)
Montreal - 2 pm EST - PM Justin Trudeau Constituency Office (1100 Crémazie East)
WHO: Organized by the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy (ECCD)
WHAT: On this National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Islamophobia, ECCD and the wider Muslim community is organizing protests in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal against the prejiduced and Islamophobic actions by CBSA against five Muslim families in Vancouver. In the National Summit on Islamophobia the Prime Minister stated “There’s no question that there is work to be done within government to dismantle systemic racism and Islamophobia.. institutions should support people, not target them.” However, we continue to witness Islamophobia by CBSA officers with no oversight mechanism.
Five Muslim Egyptian families have been singled out by CBSA officers in Vancouver in an effort to prevent them from applying for asylum or refugee status in Canada. Community organizations have been raising concern with the Minister of Public Safety informing him of the prejudice they are facing, and the Islamophobic viewpoint and actions of the officers. The CBSA’s actions have resulted in fractured families, mental health problems, and most critically, putting the family's life at risk of deportation to Egypt. This group of families who escaped Egypt are now in danger of being deported back to Egypt.
On January 29 the Muslim community is calling on the Government of Canada to take concrete steps toward addressing systemic Islamophobia inside government organizations, particularly the CBSA.
VISUALS: Community members protesting with signage in front of the CBSA Building
WHO IS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT: The Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy (ECCD) , and Community speakers. Refugees in Vancouver are available for virtual interviews.
MEDIA COVERAGE OF THIS STORY:
Global News - Protest held outside CBSA Vancouver office over claims of Islamophobia
CTV - Family of asylum-seekers claims discrimination as they fight to stay in Canada
The Star - “They say they fought for democracy. Border guards argue they supported a terror group. Will they get to stay in Canada?”
CBC - “Activist's deportation case adds to increased calls for oversight of border services”
Middle East Eye - “Canada urged against deporting human rights activist to Egypt”
CTV - “Lawyers for Egyptian asylum-seeker facing deportation say oversight of CBSA needed”
Middle East Monitor - “Family of asylum seeker intimidated after Canada official contacts Egypt regime”
Globe and Mail - “New human-rights campaign targets Canadian practice of holding some asylum seekers in jails”
Amnesty - Canada: Stop Incarcerating Immigration Detainees in Provincial Jails
When did this issue begin?
In 2017, an Egyptian immigrant sought asylum in Vancouver. He filed a refugee claim on the grounds that he was a member of the Freedom and Justice Party after the 2011 revolution. The CBSA successfully found him inadmissible due to the political party’s association to the Muslim Brotherhood. The CBSA tried to deport the refugee which was widely covered by the media. The deportation order was put on hold for the time being, but he remains at risk of removal.
Shortly after that the CBSA suspended the refugee claims of 4 other families and moved them into inadmissibility on the same grounds.
Is this a problem only in Vancouver or across the CBSA?
Yes it is limited to CBSA Vancouver. Hundreds of Egyptian families are estimated to have come to Canada after the 2013 military coup in Egypt. In fact, in the past 6 years 2,679 Egyptians have been granted protection in Canada. There are no known cases in other parts of Canada where Egyptian families have not been given refugee claims on similar grounds. In fact, documents show that CBSA Toronto and CSIS confirmed that membership in the Muslim Brotherhood is not a concern.
The position of CBSA Vancouver officers is inconsistent with the Government of Canada, who has not listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity. Similarly, the United Nations, European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and Germany among most countries around the world have all agreed, and not designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The only countries that have listed the organization are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Russia.
Are there any allegations other than alleged associations to the Muslim Brotherhood?
No. CBSA Vancouver has not brought forward a single allegation against any of the individuals, and has used the same reason for inadmissibility, association with the Muslim Brotherhood, and the same package of biased reports for all families.
Do these families know one another?
No. Each of these families have no connection. Only after two families have separately gone public in the media did the families discover there are other impacted refugees. Since this discovery the families have issued a joint letter to the Minister and a joint complaint to the CBSA.
Why are the families alleging bias and Islamophobia?
The CBSA’s evidence is sourced from the current Government of Egypt, and right-wing institutions that have exhibited a patterned anti-Arab and Islamophobic bias. The CBSA has submitted an Islamophobc report, that is widely criticized and discredited, that major Canadian Muslim organizations are tied to terrorism.
The CBSA officers have ignored an intelligence report by CSIS and the position of CBSA headquarters, and instead have chosen to seek inadmissibility based on their individual bias.
Can the Minister intervene?
The CBSA officer, in his authority as the “Minister representative”, has placed all of the families in inadmissibility. As such the Minister of Public Safety has the authority to intervene. Furthermore, in the face of Islamophobia and racism, the Minister of Public Safety has a responsibility to intervene.