Dr. Munir El-Kassem

[Jun 11, 2008 03:16 PM]

Dr. Munir El-Kassem, director of Clinics at the School of Dentistry at the University of Western in London, was detained and fingerprinted during a stopover at the Detroit airport on May 5, 2007 on his way to give a lecture at an interfaith conference in Milwaukee.

The respected Muslim community leader, university chaplain and well-known advocate for interfaith dialogue, was questioned for four hours and asked whether he knew Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and whether he loved "God or Allah". The whole ordeal left him shaken, angry and feeling dehumanized.

A month later, former foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay told Dr. El-Kassem that he had instructed his staff to conduct a complete investigation into the event surrounding his detention. The minister also told him that he had raised the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice who promised to investigate.

A year later, Dr. El-Kassem has not heard from Ottawa or Washington. And although he is often invited to speak in the U.S. to promote interfaith dialogue, he no longer travels to the U.S. "I don't want to waste my time, being questioned and detained at the border," he says.

"The result is that a moderate voice has been silenced and can no longer participate in peaceful dialogue," says Dr. El-Kassem.