Immigration Minister Sgro Targeting Muslims, CIC Says

August 11, 2004

The Canadian Islamic Congress has accused Judy Sgro, Canada's Immigration Minster, of trying to dramatically curb the number of Muslims admitted to our country as immigrants or as refugees-turned-immigrants.
Sgro's recent demand that churches cease the time-honoured tradition of harbouring failed refugee claimants is "in reality targeting Muslim refugee claimants," said Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, "It is part of the Minster's agenda to defy Canada's moral traditions."
"The hidden goal is to deny Muslims' fair access to our country. The timing is very suspicious. The motive is very suspicious. We are living in a post 9/11 era, and the Canadian government is under pressure to bow to U.S. policy - Muslims-are-our-enemy is their message."
A spokesman for Sgro's office said the minister is planning an overhaul of the entire immigration and refugee process. "To achieve what? - I must ask," added Dr. Elmasry.
But sanctuary is a symptom of a severely limited appeals process that leaves those facing deportation with no other choice, said Mary Corkery, executive director of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiative.
"The churches and refugee activists don't want sanctuary to continue," Corkery said. "We want to put in place something to end the need for refugees to seek sanctuary."
Refugee advocates and clergy were alarmed four months ago when 10 police officers in Quebec City stormed Eglise Unie St. Pierre and took away 35-year-old Mohamed Cherfi, who had taken refuge in the church basement.
"Only about a half-dozen individuals, most of them failed refugee claimants, are being sheltered in churches across this country," said Mrs. Wahida Valiante, CIC national VP, "The way Sgro is talking you'd think that Canada is invaded by refugee claimants who are sheltered by the churches.
Mosques in this country can not dare to shelter any Muslim refugee claimant. Now Sgro is going after the churches. What a sham!
Sgro's actions violate the sanctity of religious freedom in our country. The separation of church and state is a fundamental concept in democracies, and for our government to violate the Churches' right to makes independence decisions and particularly to retain a time-honoured tradition such as sanctuary is really an issue of more than just civil liberties. It violates a very fundamental, core issue in democracies which respects the separation of church and state."


  • Dr. Mohamed Elmasry,
    (519) 888-4567 Ext. 3753 (O),
    (519)746-7928 (H),
    (519) 577-2267 (Cell),

    Mrs. Wahida Valiante,
    (905) 881-8024,

    For French media :
    Dr. Mohamed Nekili,
    (519) 885-8140