Samir returns to Montreal * Is still shaking By his stay in Algeria. He tells us His experience of being anonymous because he fears revenge against his family.
Samir * was at the Algiers airport and was on his way back to Canada when he was detained for a long time by the authorities at the customs and then taken to various places for interrogation. These inquiries will miss the flight he takes home.
During various interrogations, questions are asked about his life, his family and his activities in Canada.
” Asked questions. That’s what the Citizens Movement is all about. Algerians do not like to protest abroad. It is smooth and clear. ⁇
Samir * did not hide it, he has been involved in the Algerian community in Montreal for many years and has taken part in many protests condemning the repression and detention of political prisoners in Algeria.
He has taken part in demonstrations in recent years in Montreal in support of the pro-democracy movement Hirak in Algeria.
After several hours of interrogation, he will eventually be released.
Back in Canada, after the shock of this experience, he has an angry feeling inside.
We are Canadians. […] I supported the people and signed petitions from the Asian people. Why should I not support the Algerian people?
The other two Canadian-Algerians told us that they had experienced a similar situation at the Algiers airport and that they had been questioned for hours about their civic involvement in Montreal. These two claim to have been unable to leave Algeria.
One of them was Hadjira Belkasem. He is an educator at a family daycare center and the founder of the Muslim Burial Association in Quebec. His association provides financial and moral support to Muslim families in Quebec who have lost loved ones.
She insists on talking to us openly.
He was detained for twelve hours while on a flight back to Canada.
They asked me, the Muslim Capru Association, how they collected and who gave the money. These kinds of questions about financeShe explains.
Investigators say a complaint has been lodged against her and that she is a member of a terrorist group and is suspected of financing it.
” I said it was false information, false. There is no truth in that. ⁇
After her interrogation, she made repeated requests to several authorities, but no one was able to confirm whether she should leave the country. Has hired a lawyer in Algeria to get more information.
Hadjira Belgasem did not dare to buy a plane ticket again for fear of being banned once again by Algerian customs.
I went to the airport two or three times, I think. […] The person at the airport said to me, “Ma’am, there is no guarantee. You buy your ticket and get ready to board, go back. No guarantee.”
Sabrina * Hadjira experienced the same situation. Like Sameer, she wants to remain anonymous for fear of revenge. She has also appointed a lawyer to seek an answer from Algerian authorities: so far it has not been made clear whether she will leave Algeria or not.
Should we pacify the Algerian diaspora?
Last February, Lazhar Zouaïmia, a Canadian of Algerian descent, was imprisoned in Algeria and charged with terrorism, but his family says he is paying the price for his civic involvement in Montreal.
He was released on March 30 and is expected to return to Canada on April 9. The terrorism charges against him were dropped. However, he is due to appear in Algerian court at the end of May for a crime that undermines national unity.
This kind of story is neither new nor surprising, according to Francesco Cavador, professor of political science at Laval University and director of the Center for Intermediate Research in Africa and the Middle East.
Try to see what immigrants do while abroad, which is normal in most dictatorial countries. They need to ensure the stability of the regimeHe explains.
It is a good idea to call or harass non-professionals in the industry [pour le régime], He continues. Precisely because it is random, you do not know if it is your turn to stop it when you get home.
” It is a good idea to make sure that people do not get involved. ⁇
According to him, the weight of different immigrants has been increasing in recent years, thanks in part to social media.
He points to the rise of dictatorial or semi-authoritarian regimes over the past 20 years, and now global interest in those abroad.
A Canadian-Algerian living in Montreal confirms this sentiment within the Algerian-Canadian community.
The case of Lazhar Zouaïmia is a very serious precedent because we say within ourselves […] If he is arrested, why should not we arrest him? It is more than fear. People are scaredShe argues.
According to him, many are afraid of revenge to the extent of canceling scheduled trips to Algeria in the coming months.
All those around me and those who continue to fight within the framework of Hirak have canceled their ticketsShe agrees.
World Affairs Canada says it is aware of that
Some Canadians are said to have been detained in Algeria, or even interrogated before leaving the country.Without disclosing the number of people in this situation, however.
The Algerian Embassy in Ottawa and the Algerian Embassy in Montreal did not respond to our interview requests.
* The names and genders of the witnesses have been changed to protect them from retaliation.
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