Sympathizer of terror groups was immigration board member
John Ivison, National Post
Published: Wednesday, March 04, 2009
It's well known that Khaled Mouammar wants Ottawa to remove Hamas and Hezbollah from a list of banned organizations and replace them with the Israel Defence Forces.
It's well known that the president of the Canadian Arab Federation recently called Jason Kenney, the Minister of Immigration, a "professional whore" for supporting Israel and criticizing the presence of Hamas and Hezbollah flags at a recent protest, prompting Mr. Kenney to say he would review the CAF's federal funding.
But it is less well known that Mr. Mouammar spent the 11 years prior to February, 2005, sitting as a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, deciding whether refugee claimants from such North African countries as Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Somalia should be allowed to stay in Canada.
No details are available on how many refugees Mr. Mouammar waved through the Canadian system, although one immigration lawyer who remembers him from his IRB days says he was known to have a "very high" acceptance rate. Board members typically have sole discretion over whether to admit a refugee claimant.
But his public advocacy of terror groups should raise questions about how a known partisan could possibly pass the IRB's screening process. How did someone who has long been sympathetic to terror groups come to hold a crucial position in the body designed to protect Canadians from terrorists? Phrases about foxes and chicken coops spring to mind.
The IRB has a code of conduct that requires members to conserve and enhance the organization's "integrity, objectivity and impartiality." Mr. Mouammar did not return calls seeking comment but readers can make up their own mind about his impartiality.
Since becoming president, the CAF head has shown a Robert Mugabe-like paranoia for blaming others, while ignoring the shortcomings of the side he supports.
Hamas and Hezbollah are "legitimate political parties"; Israel is a genocidal regime, guilty of "war crimes." "One day the nightmare brought about by Zionism and colonialism will come to an end," he wrote in a piece entitled Impressions of Palestine: 1948 and Today -- a clear rejection of a two-state solution in the Middle East.
Mr. Mouammar, a 68-year-old orthodox Christian who was born in Palestine and emigrated to Canada in 1965, has become a magnet for controversy.
In 2006, he was accused of circulating a flyer at the Liberal leadership convention denouncing candidate Bob Rae because his wife was vice-president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, "a lobby group which supports Israeli apartheid."
Last year, the CAF sponsored an essay-writing contest that encouraged Canadian high school students to consider "the ethnic cleansing of Palestine."
An organization that used to work on behalf of all Arabs in Canada, promoting civil liberties and human rights, while combating racism and hate, has been transformed into a single-issue distiller of venom.
In the past, the CAF has documented anti-Arab incidents during the Gulf War; debated the pros and cons of the Oslo Peace Accord; and argued at the Arar commission that there is no contradiction between security and "the fundamental values we share as Canadians." Now, it has been radicalized by its president and others.
Quite how such a man was allowed to become a gatekeeper of Canada's refugee process beggars belief, although his contributions to the Liberal party provide one possible explanation.
Mr. Kenney said that a man with such extreme views, who had already been president of the CAF before he joined the IRB, would not make the cut today.
"Khaled Mouammar was a Liberal political appointee to the IRB, who I gather has deep links in that party. His appointment by the Liberals illustrates the ways in which they abused the IRB appointment process, which we have reformed," he said. Candidates for IRB appointment must now pass through a thorough vetting process conducted by the IRB administration, he added.
Let's hope Mr. Kenney is right, for all our sakes. It might not be a bad idea to dust off some of those old files and see who did get into the country while Mr. Mouammar worked at the IRB. Meantime, the 40 or so Arab groups that make up the CAF should take action to oust a leader who has brought their organization into disrepute.