hat tip-Margo I.
Montrealers rally for Canadian facing execution http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2008/04/16/qc-kohailsupport0416.html
warning, graphic photo of beheading at bottom of article!
Teachers at Mohamed Kohail’s former school say his plight is lesson on freedom
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | 6:11 PM ET
Local advocates for a young Canadian man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia rallied in his support Wednesday at the Montreal-area school he once attended.
‘He desperately needs to know he is not alone. He desperately needs to know he is in our thoughts.’—Barry Gaiptman, Mohamed’s former teacher in Montreal
Mohamed Kohail, 23, was sentenced in early March to death by beheading for his role in a school yard brawl that left an 18-year-old man dead. He is being detained in a Saudi Arabia jail.
Kohail’s younger brother, Sultan, was also arrested in connection with the January 2007 incident and sentenced on April 5 to one year in prison and 200 lashes.
At Kohail’s former school in Beaconsfield dozens of students, staff and friends gathered to send him a message of support and pressure the federal government to take more initiative in his case.
“There are people in Montreal who remember him,” said Barry Gaiptman, a teacher at Place Cartier Adult Education Centre, where Mohamed attended class before moving to Saudi Arabia with his family in 2006.
“There are students at the school … who are thinking of him.”
“He desperately needs to know he is not alone. He desperately needs to know he is in our thoughts.”
Gaiptman reminded students at the school not to take their freedom for granted, because what happened to Mohamed and his brother could happen to anyone.
“This is not just another story. This touches us personally. It cuts to the very core of what it means … to be Canadian,” he said.
“We go about our daily activities. We take so much for granted — our freedoms, our rights, our liberties. All of these things are not an accident.”
Students, staff to bring petition to Ottawa Thursday
The school circulated a petition last fall urging the Canadian government to get actively involved. A group of students and staff will travel to Ottawa on Thursday to hand it to Kohail’s former MP, Bernard Patry, Gaiptman said.
The adult education centre also dedicated a showcase window to Kohail’s plight, with his picture and newspaper clippings of stories written about him.
The brothers lived in Montreal for five years before moving back to Saudi Arabia, where they were born and raised. They are both Canadian citizens of Palestinian origin.
They were detained in January 2007 after a school brawl that left a Syrian student dead from internal injuries.
Their family maintains the Kohail brothers are innocent and did not receive a fair trial in a court where defence witnesses were denied standing.
The Canadian government is their last hope, the family has said.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day’s department has urged Saudi authorities to overturn the death sentence, and Day said he would continue to seek clemency for Mohamed.
A Jordanian man was also detained after the incident and sentenced to death.typical beheading