Alastair Starke

Canada as get out of jail free card

The sinister side to dual citizenship

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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.




While I generally agree with your opinion, I believe you've breezed over a number of key facts pertaining to this case. First off,the brawl was instigated by the victim, Kohail was defending his brother. No strong evidence exists that it was Kohail that killed the victim. Further more the trial was deeply flawed by Saudi and Canadian standards, with Kohail's lawyer being barred for most of the trial and the witnesses for the defense not being considered. There is good reason to believe that Kohail is the victim of a miscarriage of justice, and the government should do what it can to save him.

You said:

"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.
...the responsibilities of being a citizen such as voting, working and contributing productively."

While I do agree with these points, I fear it is somewhat arbitrary in that there are numerous Canadians within our borders who do not exercise their right to suffrage, never contribute anything worthwhile to society, and if anything are actually a drain to our resources.

Yet despite that, we do not drop our obligations just because they do not meet these factors. They are still Canadians living within our borders and the society as a whole does not turn its back.

What then makes Kohail's case unique, and perhaps demands more action in our part, is that it is now in the global spehere. Should we exterminate the dregs within our borders, then it becomes simply an internal matter. An immoral, unthinkably brutal one, but an internal matter nonetheless. If not even the slightest hint of diplomatic action is seen in the part of our government, then how weak would we seem to the rest of the world?

By the way the Kohail's are not from saudi arabia so they dont hold dual citizienship, they resided in Saudi Arabia for 16 years, they are from jerusalem orginially. These are important details.

Brock and David your comments are great in summary I think a Canadian is a Canadian no matter where they reside irrelevant of the contribution. Just like Brock said some people live within our borders but are a burden on tax payers and on the system. Some people collect assistance and are fraud they are thousands of them, they are still Canadians. A Canadian citizen is a Canadian Citizen no matter what and deserves the support of Canada.

Great comments steve, Brock and David, I like that a Canadian is Canadian no matter what or where. Just like Great Britain and the USA jumps to the aid of their citizens when they need it so must Canada as a western democratic Country.

To the author with all respect get your facts straight before starting to write, the Kohails are not Saudi and do not hold dual citizenship. "Canada as get out of jail free card" the fact that one holds a Canadian passport requires that the government come to his aid where ever. While travelling abroad I have seen how aggressive Britain and the USA are about aiding thier citizens makes Canada look like joke. Just because Canada came in to help once in a while does not make it the leader in helping its citizens its actually the worst when it comes to aiding citizens abroad. To the author try travelling abroad and visit those Canadian embassies that offer the worst services what a shame. Canada is obliged to help its citizen period.

John Kenny.