Support the Dominion
Support the Dominion
By Stefan Christoff
Algerian refugee Abdelkader Belaouni has spent the past two years in sanctuary at St-Gabriel's Church in Pointe St-Charles. On Jan. 1, 2005, Belaouni took sanctuary in open defiance of a deportation ordered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
"I'm not hiding from Immigration Canada, but I want to tell them clearly, I will not be presenting myself for deportation," stated Belaouni in a public statement at the time.
Ever since, Abdelkader Belaouni, with the support of multiple community organizations and social justice groups, has been fighting a very public battle with Immigration Canada. It isn't the only battle he's faced in this lifetime. In 1996 he escaped a violent civil conflict in Algeria, which took an estimated 100,000 civilian lives. As a blind man, Belaouni made the journey to New York City, and while he never gained status there he did carve out an independent life selling telephone cards.
Following Sept. 11, 2001, Belaouni left New York out of the fear of systemic persecution against Arabs and Muslims, including mass deportations, disappearances and the fire-bombings of mosques. Immigration Canada didn't exercise sympathy or compassion in the case, instead issuing a deportation order for Belaouni three years after his arrival in Montreal.
Today, Belaouni remains in sanctuary, never having stepped foot outside St-Gabriel's Church in all the time he's been there. "After two years I remain here without status. It is tiring, it is depressing, I want freedom," he explains. "It is clear that the government is aware of my current suffering and my difficult history in Algeria; they must act now and regularize my status."
On Friday, Jan. 18, the Committee to Support Abdelkader Belaouni is holding a demonstration in Montreal to mark his two years in sanctuary, starting at 11 a.m. at Phillips Square, on Ste-Catherine and Place Phillips in downtown Montreal. For more info, visit www.soutienpourkader.net
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