After weeks of waiting for the Canadian government to issue a visa, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti and CJPME have been forced to cancel his upcoming speaking tour. Despite the urgency of the issue being brought directly to high-level officials in Foreign Affairs and Immigration and Citizenship, the government continued to delay the issuance of a visa, resulting in a cancellation of Barghouti's visit. In the past, Dr. Barghouti has received a visa to Canada within 24 hours after applying. CJPME believes these delays are part of the Harper government's broader strategy of muzzling or obstructing any voice critical of the policies of the Israeli government.
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Dr. Barghouti was scheduled to speak at three public events in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa on the topic: Palestinian political dynamics and the realities for Middle East Peace. Dr. Barghouti also had appointments with several prominent members of parliament schedule for Monday, March 22nd. The delays with Dr. Barghouti's visa were brought to the attention of Foreign Affairs and Citizenship and Immigration as early as Wednesday March 17th, with Minister Cannon being directly advised of the situation. On Thursday, March 18th, the Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration advised the Bloc Quebecois critic Thierry St. Cyr that officials were aware of the urgency of the matter, but were still doing checks on Barghouti, and his host organization Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME.)
"This seems to be another example of the Harper government's dislike for free speech," declared Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. "Dr. Barghouti has long advocated for a peaceful transition to a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine - his message should appeal to anyone with a sincere commitment to Middle East peace." Dr. Barghouti's record is without blemish: he is a physician and an independent Palestinian politician with a known commitment to non-violence. CJPME believes that the Harper government's obstruction of Dr. Barghouti's visa is part of a broader strategy to muzzle or obstruct any voice critical of the policies of the Israeli government.