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McGill Reporter
October 25, 2001 - Volume 34 Number 04
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To the editor:

As a former political refugee I was personally insulted by Mr. Bharat Kewmar's letter of Oct 11. I shall try to limit my comments to the relevant passage, although there is much else in his letter which I find sickening.

The relevant passage reads: "Terrorist incidents in Canada are likely to increase further as the Canadian government continues to relax its refugee policies, further letting in thousands of economic migrants from countries where religious intolerance is on the rise."

There has been a denigration campaign against so-called "bogus refugees" (meaning refugee claimants without proper papers) going on in the gutter press for some years. It has been led by redneck xenophobes who hate all immigrants, but target refugees because they are the most vulnerable. And now Mr. Kewmar is contributing to the hysteria by telling us that refugees are probable terrorists.

Now I can speak from my own (Polish) experience: All refugees hate the government which has forced them to become refugees, either by direct expulsion or by oppression. Where applicable, they hate the superpower which keeps that government in place (in Poland's case, it was the Soviet Union).

Many of them dream of carrying on a struggle against their oppressors from their country of refuge. Very, very few of them have the means to do anything more than publish propaganda. But those very, very few may engage in acts of terrorism which the host country cannot tolerate.

So, what does Mr. Kewmar expect Immigration Canada to do? Shut the door against all refugees because of possible terrorists among them? What about local-born terrorists? As far as I am aware almost all FLQ terrorists were Canadian-born.

Very strangely, Mr. Kewmar is most hostile towards refugees "from countries where religious intolerance is on the rise." Does he mean Baha'i refugees from Iran? Or Falun Gong refugees from China? Or Buddhist refugees from Tibet? Or Muslim refugees from Afghanistan who disagree with the Taliban's interpretation of Islam?

As Ashok Chandwani once said in The Gazette (I don't remember the exact words): "Canada is like one of those overcrowded trains in India. You struggle to get in, and, once inside, you struggle to stop others from getting in."

Jan W. Weryho
Islamic studies
cataloguing librarian (retired)

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