On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Donald Pratt and Peter Gose. They are members of Justice for Hassan Diab, the support committee that has been working to defend a wrongfully accused Ottawa academic who has been struggling against a Kafkaesque legal nightmare since 2008. Diab was extradited to France in November, but he and his support committee continue to fight.
From colonial violence, to slavery, to camps, to apartheid, Western states have always found ways to inflict unjust suffering and violence on those marked in some way as “Other” while claiming a cloak of “fairness” and “rules followed.” The form and focus of such infliction of harms shifts over time, so even though it didn’t start then, the targeting of Muslims and of people read to be Muslim in the West increased dramatically after September 11, 2001. Though nominally done under a banner of “fighting terrorism,” the amped-up racist marginalization of entire communities rapidly reached a point that one prominent Canadian scholar, Sherene Razack, has described as “the eviction of Muslims from Western law and politics.”
There are many ways this has played out, but one is in the targeting of specific individuals by national security state measures based on fitting a profile or on some tenuous chain of connections rather than anything resembling concrete, publicly shared evidence. One such case is that of Ottawa academic Hassan Diab. At the request of French authorities, he was arrested in Canada in 2008 under suspicion of involvement in a bombing that happened in 1980 in Paris. He denied the charges and he and his support committee, Justice for Hassan Diab, fought efforts to extradite him to France. In the course of doing so it became ever more clear that the case against him was so flimsy and contradictory that it would not stand up even under the imperfect scrutiny and standards of a Canadian criminal trial. But the combination of a national security infrastructure that is allowed within the rules of the system to do all sort of horrific things with little transparency or due process, and a Canadian extradition system that has incredibly low standards of evidence and process — much lower than a criminal trial — culminated in Diab’s extradition to France this past November. There, he faces anti-terror laws, courts, and practices that are well-known for questionable due process, deference to state interests, valuing secrecy over justice, and violations of rights that many of us assume we can take for granted.
Pratt and Gose are friends of Diab’s, and they have been centrally involved in his support committee. They talk with me about this injustice, the details of the shoddy process and highly dubious case Diab has been facing, their work to support his struggle, and the new phase of that work now that Diab sits in a French jail.
To learn more about Justice for Hassan Diab, click here.
Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.
Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.