The evening of September 11, 2012 saw a handful of Jewish Defence League (JDL) members—and a slew of their rent-a-thug biker buddies—holding a “candlelight vigil” for the dead of September 11, 2001. Held across the street from the home of Omar Khadr’s sister in Toronto’s Scarborough Junction, it was more like a lynch-mob.
The JDL and the bikers—those who run guns and drugs, and call rape “surprise sex”—spewed hate-filled rhetoric and held placards opposing terrorism, effectively terrorizing the new-comers to Canada who live in the same apartment building along with Omar’s family. If it wasn’t so serious, it would be fodder for a Bizarro comic.
Across the street, in front of the building, about 100 peace activists from Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and other faiths gathered together. They honoured the dead of September 11, stating they would not stand silently by and let the JDL use the terrible events of that day to confuse peaceful vigils with racism and war. They stated they would not tolerate Islamophobia, called for an end to Guantanamo and called for Omar’s return to Canada. Born and raised here until the age of 10, he is a Canadian citizen.
Omar is not responsible for 9/11. He is accused of being a terrorist. Dragged into a war not of his making at 13 years old, he was present in the area of a skirmish in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002. A grenade was thrown; Sergeant Christopher Speer suffered wounds from it and died two weeks later. There is no evidence or proof that Omar threw any grenade; he was shot—in the back—three times; taken to Bagram, and treated as guilty from minute one. Three months later he was taken to Guantanamo, did not meet with a lawyer for three years; had no judicial process; no trial until 2010. He was tortured severely, repeatedly, for eight years. In October 2010 he pled guilty.
In the course of history, countless numbers of people have pled guilty because they’re coerced; up against insurmountable odds; or to end the torture they suffer at the hands of their captors. That doesn’t make them guilty.
Omar is still in Guantanamo. Most of humanity understands that children, and child soldiers, are victims of war. It’s time to bring him home.