As a member of London's medical and Muslim communities, I was surprised to read the news that Dr. Khurram Sher was arrested Thursday along with two others, accused in a terrorism-related plot.
I was also surprised -- and became increasingly concerned -- as more information was published regarding the allegations. Our system of justice is built on the zealous presumption of innocence, yet this man and the Muslim community around him have already been judged. In the absence of evidence, Sher is being tried in the court of public opinion.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews' spokesperson already found Sher guilty in comments to The Toronto Star. Even The London Free Press's headline of Byron terror bust left little room for the presumption of innocence. The effects are chilling for all, and leave Muslims and non-Muslims feeling tense and unsafe in the rush to accept arrests as guilty verdicts.
It is the same disturbing pattern we saw with the Toronto 18, even as the numbers dwindled and charges were stayed.
It shouldn't need saying that most Muslim Canadians are law-abiding citizens who abhor violence and terrorism, and are committed to the safety of their communities. Yet we find ourselves as one of the only communities in Canada compelled to write public statements when members of our community are alleged to have done something.
When we do speak up, we are expected only to assert our "Canadian-ness," rather than raise serious questions about due process and intelligence agencies with poor human rights records -- questions shared by many Canadians and sorely in need of addressing.
Read more here. Thanks to David H for sharing.