Ottawa imam’s deportation threat to be reviewed

Ottawa imam’s deportation threat to be reviewed

2 hours, 29 minutes ago

The deportation threat against the spiritual leader of the Ottawa Mosque is being reviewed after the cleric complained to an Ottawa MP.

Khaled Abdul-Hamid Syed wrote to Gordon O’Connor, Conservative MP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills, after receiving a letter earlier from the federal immigration department earlier this month. It reminded him that his application to stay in Canada was refused months ago and he must leave the country.

Syed alleged the letter was the result of a misunderstanding.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Tuesday that he can’t comment on individual immigration cases, but this particular one will be reviewed to “ensure that the individual in question is treated fairly and according to the law.”

Kenney added that O’Connor brought the case to the attention of his office.

“It looks like it’s a case of poison pen letters, which sometimes negatively affect people’s immigration files,” he added.

Syed himself declined to comment on the matter.

The imam and his family arrived in Canada from Egypt in 2008, following the mosque’s extensive search for a new spiritual leader.

Idris Ben-Tahir, a member of the Ottawa Mosque, which is just off Scott Street near Tunney’s Pasture, alleges a dissident faction wants to replace Syed with a radical leader and suggested it may have had a role in Syed’s immigration troubles.

“There’s an election coming up in the mosque on April 25, and if a new board comes in and they bring in their own people and take over the mosque, and bring in their own imam … we don’t want to be in that situation,” he said.

Gihad Shabib, who has served on the mosque’s board, said Syed has strict views and interpretations of Islam. Some people think Syed’s views aren’t modern enough for western society, he added, and some influential members of the mosque have made no secret that they want him removed.

“I think they [planted] the seed, and the government waited until the time was right, ” said Shabib, who works as an obstetrician at the Ottawa Hospital.

He suggested that if Syed is forced to leave Canada it could leave the mosque’s congregation sad and humiliated.

“I’m worried about the backlash on that,” he added.

Syed, whose salary is paid by the Egyptian government, currently has 16 months left on his contract at the mosque.

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