Connect to share and comment

Gorgeous George

While George Galloway's ban from Canada makes headlines, a Canadian citizen has been banned from re-entering his own country.

British politician George Galloway visits the al-Fadelah Islamic school, destroyed during Israel's 22-day offensive that ended in January, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip March 11, 2009. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

TORONTO — By now, many around the world have heard that provocative British politician George Galloway has been banned from entering Canada.

Practically no one, by comparison, has heard of Abousfian Abdelrazik. Yet most of those who have would argue that Abdelrazik's case is far more outrageous.

Galloway, dubbed “Gorgeous George” for his fashion flair, is the sole member in the British parliament of the anti-war group, Respect. An uncompromising left-winger, he was thrown out of the Labour Party in 2003 for emphatically opposing the invasion of Iraq. Last week, he was designated a threat to national security and barred from entering Canada for a speaking tour.

A spokesperson for Canada’s immigration minister accused Galloway of raising funds for the Palestinian group Hamas, which the Canadian government considers a terrorist organization, and of being “a popinjay for those Taliban fighters who are trying to kill Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.”

Galloway, who this month led an aid convoy to war-flattened Gaza, charges Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney with trampling free speech. He has vowed to challenge his ban in court.

The ban comes from a conservative government that has shifted Canadian foreign policy to what critics consider unquestioning support for Israel. Most recently, Kenney said he would not renew $2.5 million worth of contracts that the Canadian Arab Federation uses to teach English to immigrants. The move came after the federation’s leader called Kenney a “professional whore” who supports Israel to win Jewish votes in Canada.

It's impossible to know whether Abdelrazik has heard of the Galloway kerfuffle. But it’s a safe bet that he wishes his case would receive as much international attention.

Abdelrazik has been blocked from re-entering Canada for more than five years. What makes the case particularly noteworthy is that Abdelrazik, unlike Galloway, has been a Canadian citizen since 1995.

The bizarre tale of the Canadian government keeping one of its own citizens out of the country began in 2003. That year, Abdelrazik left his wife and seven young children in Montreal to go visit his ailing mother in Khartoum, Sudan.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/canada/090324/gorgeous-george