Canada as get out of jail free card

By Tristan Taylor

After taking part in a schoolyard smackdown that led to the death of one man in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2007, Muhammad Kohail was sentenced to death by public beheading. This story is clearly not just a typical high school drama, nor is it a chain letter sent via Hotmail asking for 1,000 signatures to save the poor young man. The tale that ends with the life of Kohail begins with his application for dual citizenship, split between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Though it has long been a tender issue for both immigrants and patriots, dual citizenship should not be allowed.

To be a citizen is to be a productive, active member of society, someone who works to the best of their ability and who contributes politically when of age. Kohail failed to uphold the obligations accompanied with Canadian citizenship, yet he, his family and Liberal MP Dan McTeague are asking the government of Canada to save him from his impending execution.

Why should our government protect not only a murderer, but a murderer who has only been a Canadian citizen for three years and after obtaining his citizenship, moved back to his homeland? Why should this man benefit from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms while he lives outside of Canada?

The fundamental flaw of dual citizenship is that it allows dual citizens to pick and choose not only where they live, but also what law system they live under. This causes a problem when the two countries that the dual citizens belong to have opposing belief systems with very little middle ground, such as an Islamic absolute monarchy and a federal parliamentary democracy.

Is Kohail not subject to Saudi law? Why is he seeking the benefit of Canadian law? If he committed murder in Canada then yes, he should be tried by Canadian law and Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to intervene. Therefore, it would be incorrect and wrong for Canada to intervene in Saudi Arabia’s legal system.

It is important to keep in mind that Kohail’s sentence may be harsh, but what he did was wrong and according to Saudi custom, his punishment is just. Canadians cannot argue with this. Lest we do and somehow this comes back to haunt us when another country interferes with our internal affairs.

Dual citizenship, to some, is a get out of jail free card, but it shouldn’t be. Canada’s response not to interfere is the correct one. The small schoolyard smackdown that lead to one man’s death could lead to a much bigger political crisis. And in this time of world tension between Western and Eastern beliefs, this would only inhibit a future camaraderie.

The idea of owning citizenship for two countries fails to recognize the responsibilities of being a citizen such as voting, working and contributing productively. One cannot serve two masters, especially when those two masters have such contrary beliefs on justice. It is not our government’s responsibility to protect Kohail.

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