Monday, November 10, 2008

New Book about Maher Arar

Hope and Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Arar
Written by Monia Mazigh
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
October 2008

For those of you who don't know, Maher Arar was a Canadian citizen (Born in Syria) who was returning to Canada from North Africa after visiting relatives. He had a Canadian passport, and he was changing planes at JFK airport in New York City in USA.

He was arrested by the US immigrations, accused of being a terrorist and sent to Syria to be tortured. This is a practice called RENDITION and is supported by the US government - well the BUSH administration anyway. We will have to wait and see what Obama does.

Arar's wife Monia had no idea that her husband had not returned home, as she was still in North Africa with her family. It was not until she arrived back in Canada to discover that he was not at home. That is when her terror, and her struggle began.

After Arar returned home, he filed a lawsuit against both the Canadian and American governments. The Canadian government apologised and paid him about $10 million. The US government refuses to accept responsibility, refuses to apologise for their wrong doing, still refuses to remove Arar's name from the terrorist no-fly list and the USA still claims that he is a terrorist.

Monia has written a book - which was released in October this year. I have not read this book, but I do want to get it and read it ASAP. Below is the blurb on the book.

This is the inspiring story of Monia Mazigh’s courageous fight to free her husband, Maher Arar, from a Syrian jail.

On September 26, 2002, Maher Arar boarded an American Airlines plane bound for New York, returning early from vacation with his family because a work project needed his attention. He was a Canadian citizen, a telecommunications engineer and entrepreneur who had never been in trouble with the law. His nightmare began when he was pulled aside by Immigration officials at JFK airport, questioned, held without access to a lawyer, and ultimately deported to Syria on the suspicion that he had terrorist links. He would remain there, tortured and imprisoned for over one year. Meanwhile his wife, Monia, and their two children stayed on visiting family in Tunisia, unaware that their lives were about to be torn apart.

Upon her return to Canada, Monia was horrified at the media’s and public’s willingness to assume that the Canadian police and intelligence agencies, and their American counterparts, take on her husband as a terrorist was correct. She began a tireless campaign to bring public attention and government action to her husband’s plight, eventually turning the tide of public opinion in Arar’s favour, and gaining his release and return to Canada. Of her willingness to speak out, she has said that she was never afraid: “I had lost my life. I didn’t have more to lose.”

This is a remarkable story of personal courage, and of an extraordinary woman who lets us into her life so that other Canadians can understand the denial of rights and the discarding of human rights her family suffered. Candid, poignant, and inspiring, this is the most important book of the season.

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