Another blue Christmas for Harkat

posted on December 26, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Tobi Cohen
Source: The Ottawa Sun
URL: [link]
Date: December 26, 2004

Sophie Harkat still chuckles when she remembers the first Christmas she spent with her husband Mohamed. A Muslim refugee from Algeria, he'd never shopped for Christmas presents or greeting cards before, but nonetheless accepted an invite to Sophie's annual family gift exchange.

When Sophie opened her card, she found a lovely wedding shower greeting and with their engagement and wedding still a year in the future, this was no cutesy marriage proposal."He said: 'I don't know, I liked the picture so I picked it up,' " she laughed over Christmas lunch at her mom's west-end home yesterday.

Though relatively upbeat and keen on making the best of the holidays despite the fact this has been her third consecutive without her husband, Sophie said Mohamed is seriously struggling.

Holed up at the Innes Rd. detention centre since his Dec. 10, 2002 arrest on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, Mohamed's spirit has eroded, she said.

Held without charge on a security certificate -- a seldom-used provision under Canada's immigration law -- Mohamed fought it in court this fall and was hoping for a decision before the holidays.

"For him, he's not guilty of anything so he doesn't understand," his mother-in-law Pierrette Brunette said. "It's very clear in his mind he's innocent."

Brunette and Sophie, who visited him Christmas Eve and Christmas Day respectively, said he's depressed and reluctant to greet visitors.

"He hasn't shaved in 10 days. He said, 'what's the point?' " Sophie noted.

While her faith in her husband never wavers, Sophie's faith in Canada's justice system is hanging by a thread.

As difficult as it will be for her and Mohamed to rebuild their lives together when, and if, his name is cleared -- "we're two different people now," she said -- having to follow him if he's deported will be even tougher.

In the meantime, Sophie said she will keep fighting for her husband's freedom in hopes of a merry ending.


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