Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are Canadians actually "split on" Omar Khadr's interrogation video?

The mainstream news is buzzing today about a video of Omar Khadr’s interrogation by a Canadian CSIS official at Guantanamo Bay. The video most prominently being played by news agencies is of Khadr weeping and saying “kill me”.

Khadr is being detained for allegedly throwing a grenade that fatally wounded an American soldier. He was also shot three times. There’s no word of the punishment faced by the person who shot Khadr, who, at that time, was 15 years old.

The government has said it will not comment on the video.

It is fair to assume that only public pressure will snap the feds into action on this case. Khadr, who fits the definition of a child soldier, was engaged in an illegal war. However, the Canadian Press has reported that Khadr’s case has somehow “Split Canadians”.

The article uses comments posted on some media websites to argue that Canadians are divided in how they view Khadr. Many of the comments made against Khadr quote things that have been said by his family in the past to argue their case. It’s important to mention that much of what has been written on the Khadr family has been blown up by right-wing editorial journals like Maclean’s Magazine, a rag that has recently been condemned by the Ontario Human Rights Commission for publishing content that can be seen as Islamophobic.

But, if there were truth in the Canadian Press article, what exactly are Canadians “Split On”?

Isn’t the majority of Canadians supportive of the definition of child soldier? Or is this definition thrown out when the child-in-question is complicit in ‘terrorism?’ Or is Muslim? Or is Canadian and Muslim? Is this a definition to be imposed upon other countries with other conflicts, and not a definition that the Canadian government or Stephen Harper needs to uphold?

When framed this way, it’s likely that this video does not split Canadians. It is only when the facts are skewed, when ambiguous and loaded terms like terrorism are used, and when rhetoric and racism are thrown in the mix could the Canadian population look “split” on how Omar Khadr has been treated.

If Canadians hope to hold high heads on the world stage when they declare their country a peace-loving and peace-keeping nation, their government needs to stop being complicit in American foreign occupations and conflict. Canada needs to demand that Khadr is returned to the country of his citizenship.