The Case of Omar Khadr and the Two-Tiered Canadian Citizenship Model
This paper focuses on the story of Omar Khadr, a Toronto-born Muslim-Canadian citizen who was captured by the Americans in a bombed-out compound in Afghanistan back in 2002. Khadr had to spent a decade of his life detained, often in solitary confinement, in Guantanamo Bay, which had been controversial for allegations of torture against its detainees. In 2012, he pled guilty before a military tribunal for throwing a grenade that fatally wounded an American soldier—a guilty pleading he later recanted. As to the Liberal government’s $10-million compensation and apology to Khadr—Canadians remain divided. I will argue in this paper, using the case of Omar Khadr, that one’s status as a Canadian citizen is not an absolute guarantee to shield people from abuse, dispossession, unfair stigmatization, prejudice and racialization. Additionally, I suggest that Canada subscribes to a double standard when it comes to protecting its citizens, as seen in its complicity and complacency in Khadr’s case as well as its deliberate stonewalling of his repatriation. Most importantly, I intend to demonstrate that racialization and prejudice are the main reasons why Khadr had been deprived of the protections and rights, which should have been guaranteed to him, given his Canadian citizenship.
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