(OTTAWA, CANADA – 08/6/2005) – The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) today called on Ministers Anne McLellan and Irwin Cotler to launch an investigation into security officials’ treatment of Canadian Muslims after releasing a new study that shows questionable practices are being used in national security interviews. “Prior reports of security officials employing disturbing practices have resulted in a sense of insecurity and loss of trust for Canadian Muslims. The results of this study confirm those reports, and demand that this issue be thoroughly and independently investigated,” says Riad Saloojee, the executive director of CAIR-CAN. The study, Presumption of Guilt: A National Survey on Security Visitations of Canadian Muslims, was undertaken after CAIR-CAN received troubling reports of unacceptable tactics being employed in interviews of Canadian Muslims. The results showed that 8 per cent of those surveyed, most of whom were young Arab males, had been visited by the RCMP or CSIS.
However the survey also suggests that this number may be underreported, as 62 per cent said they never reported the incidents. The study revealed that security officials discouraged legal representation, engaged in aggressive and threatening behaviour, used threats of arrest under the Anti-Terrorism Act to compel individuals to be interviewed, asked intrusive and inappropriate questions, gave improper identification, solicited informants through intimidation and even interrogated a minor. One in four individuals were also contacted at their workplaces. 46 per cent of those visited by security officials said it made them feel fearful, anxious and nervous, while 24 per cent said they felt harassed and discriminated against. 89 per cent agreed to meet with security officials, but only 16 per cent brought a lawyer. “We hope that the study will lead to much-needed debate on this issue and will serve as the impetus for corrective action,” said Saloojee. – End – CONTACT: Halima Mautbur at 613-254-9704 or cell: 613-795-2012.