Asylum seekers from Egypt have been living in Metro Vancouver for years, but say one CBSA agent has denied all their refugee requests because of political ties. Crystal Laderas reports.
Asylum seekers from Egypt who’ve been living in Metro Vancouver for years, say one Canadian Border Services Agency agent has denied all their refugee requests because of Islamophobic views.
Attia Elserafy is part of one of five families who say a CBSA officer rejected their claims because of ties to one political party. These families began to settle in the Vancouver area about five years ago.
“We came to Canada … looking for protection here, because I am a political activist in Egypt and a leader of a trade union,” he tells CityNews. However, he adds, “The officer is targeting me and my family.”
Elserfafy and other families are members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which won a democratic election after mass protests in 2011.
In 2013, Egypt’s army chief seized power in a military coup against the elected Freedom and Justice Party’s government.
Since then, the government has been arresting thousands of party’s members and Muslim Brotherhood supporters after labelling them as “terrorists” in a campaign that Amnesty International called in 2015 a “ruthless bid to crush dissent.”
The Muslim Brotherhood is not listed on Canada’s list of terrorist entities.
With no citizenship status, Elserafy can’t get accredited to work as an engineer, HIS two children are still living in Turkey, and one daughter here can’t attend university.
“I thought many times to end my life. I now follow-up with A psychiatric doctor, I’m taking medication – can’t control myself, because my family is destroyed and I couldn’t do anything for them,” Elserfafy says. “We are good people, he [is] working with us like we’re animals.”
Volunteers note high profile politicians with the Freedom and Justice Party resettled in Canada, and the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy is calling for more oversight over the CBSA.
“There are many individuals and families in the exact same situation who had come from different ports of entry in Canada, all across Canada who had the same grounds and they were made admissible to Canada. We feel like evidence gathered from this office, [is] based on Islamophobic viewpoints,” Volunteer Akram Raouf added.
Elserafy is also calling on the Public Safety to “[save] me and my family and other families and keeping Canadadian values.”
Protestors also held a rally at the federal Immigration Minister’s constituency office in Toronto, pushing him to intervene.