Javed Yazamy gives the lie to Condoleezza Rice’s most famous pronouncement: “We don’t do torture.” He had broken ribs, acquired at Bagram. His crime was that he, a journalist, went into Taliban territory and interviewed Taliban. Much of his work was for the Canadian television station CTV, serving as a translator beginning in 2006.
Yazamy was arrested in October, 2007, suspected of being a spy. His mistreatment began immediately at Kandahar Airforce Base, where he was deprived of sleep for nine days continuously. Then came the transfer to Bagram, where he was made to stand in the snow for six hours without shoes and with little clothing to protect against the cold. And of course there were beatings which led to the broken ribs.
He was released without charge on September 21, following a successful campaign on his behalf by human rights activists and fellow journalists.
Hijab-clad candidate badgered
During the current Canadian election campaign, Samira Laouni, a candidate for the socialist New Democratic Party in Quebec, was invited to a radio talk show. Candidates welcome the chance to make themselves heard in the media, but this experience was something else.
The host of the show, Benoît Dutrizac, spent the time attacking her for her religion. Laouni wears a hijab, which he called a veil. He said, “It’s very sexy.” He intimated that she is at the mercy of her husband because of Islam. In response to all his efforts to link her faith to intolerant or reactionary attitudes, she took a consistent libertarian approach. Tolerance of gays, refusal to judge people who have multiple sex partners or Muslims who drink, and so on.
As an effort to show that this Muslim woman was narrow-minded and constrained by religion, Dutrizac floundered badly, but he did not conduct a fair interview. He badgered her and tried to humiliate her.
Charging that Dutrizac’s conduct was “racist,” Mohamed Boudjenane, Executive Director of the Canadian Arab Federation, called for Dutrizac’s resignation and for an investigation by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Fly in the no-fly ointment
Canadians on both sides of the border are falling victim to no-fly lists. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security list has caught Montreal record company executive Mario Labbé on several occasions, requiring intensive questioning before he could board. Once he was stuck for six hours in Miami because he had to wait his turn for interrogation.
Labbé is on the list because he had been a victim of identity theft. While Homeland Security says that there is no way for his name to be removed, he has found a way to foil the delays. Mario Labbé has now changed his name to François Mario Labbé. He’s tricked the system.
Alistair Butt also encountered a problem on in-Canada flights. In fact, two Alistair Butts got caught up in the no-fly ointment. The 15-year-old Alistair Butt is from Ottawa and was held up trying to go from Montreal to St. John’s, Newfoundland. His 10-year-old namesake from Saskatoon was also stopped at a Canadian airport. An Air Canada official suggested to Ottawa Alistair’s mother that the family could change his name.
So it seems that there is a way to get around the lists. Of course, terrorists would be too stupid to figure out such a complicated scheme.
Photos of apartheid
Call it an apartheid wall, a separation barrier, or a land grab. No matter, seeing is believing. Photographic artist Rehab Nazzal’s exhibition “Walking Under Occupation” lets you see. Currently, it is on at the Ottawa School of Art, where Nazzal teaches photography and drawing.
The color photographs, few in number, are very large. Two of them show the wall meandering through Bethlehem, carefully separating the city from fields of olive groves. The wall is full of graffiti, and one grafitto is in English: Stop the Racist Wall.
She took photos on long walks. There is a shot of a signpost at crossroads to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Jericho. Nazzal can no longer walk that route because it is now closed to Palestinians. Another photo is of ugly watch towers.
Nazzal is a Palestinian from Qabatiya-Jenin. She left to study economics at Damascus University and at the University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria. She was unable to return to Palestine. After working in Jordan and Syria for the Palestinian Authority, she emigrated to Canada, where she changed her career path to art, studying at the Ottawa School of Art and the University of Ottawa. She graduated from the University of Ottawa as a bachelor of fine art, magna cum laude, last year.
If an organization in the Detroit-Dearborn area is interested, the exhibition can travel.