Even as I write this, Syrian refugees are being greeted at various Canadian airports with a ‘Welcome’ sign and tears from well-wishing Canadians. From Dec 1, 2015, Syrian refugees will arrive in Canada in throngs — 900 a day! Ontario is set to house 10,000 refugees, primarily and temporarily in military barracks.

Ever since the photograph of the toddler, Alan Kurdi, broke the internet and changed the face of journalism, Canada had been under immense pressure to accept refugees who are fleeing from the ISIS terror.  Alan Kurdi was apparently trying to come to Canada as a refugee and his application was apparently refused.

This photograph changed the way common people looked at the Syrian war/refugee problem. Then came the Canadian elections and Justin Trudeau swung into power with his promise to Canadians that he would accommodate 25,000 Syrian refugees by the year end, which he was determined to do.

Everything was going well, and Trudeau  got the support of millions — until the Paris attack happened on Friday the 13th of November, 2015.

This attack turned the sympathy of common Canadians 180 degrees on its head, and the empathetic Canadians now feared for their own safety, as it was highly likely that ISIS may infiltrate their suicide bombers through these refugees. More so, since one suicide bomber in the Paris attack was found to be a Syrian refugee.

There was panic among the people, among ministers and Premiers. Yet, Trudeau remained unmoved on his decision and set a December deadline to bring in the refugees.

In a way, I support his strength to stick to his decision, because every time a terrorist aims his gun at us, we should not shiver in our skins. We need to provide the humane support and values to the world that Canada is so well-known for.

In my lifetime I have seen planes crash into the Twin Towers and watched them crumble to the ground, the way men and women jumped from the top floors to their deaths. I have designed pages in a major newspaper in India to report the Mumbai attacks which killed 164 people and wounded at least 308. In November 2008, 10 Pakistani members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant organization, carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai.  The attacks, similar to that of Paris, began on Wednesday, 26 November and lasted until Saturday, 29 November 2008.

I have refused to watch as Daniel Pearl would be the first of many ISIS victims – throat slit, terror reverberating around the world, establishing a new “normal”.

Which is why the fear in the hearts of the Canadians is justified. “What if there are terrorists hiding among Syrian refugees?” has been the question on the lips of far too many people these past few days. Not so mention worthy is the spate of Islamophobia that has been gripping the country as well as the world the last few days that has resulted in some sparring hate actions in Toronto and surroundings.

As you read this copy, hundreds of Syrian refugees are screened in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan for immigration to Canada.

However, you need not fear them coming and settling here. These are the reasons why:

  1. No single men are allowed in. The Canadian Department of Immigration will be admitting women, many of them widowed by war, with their young children and other families with children. All of them will be coming from camps established in Jordan and Lebanon by the United Nations and will have lived in those camps for more than a year. Canada will not be accepting any of those refugees who are wandering in Europe with no identity papers and no security clearance.
  2. They are selected from those screened by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. The UNHCR uses sophisticated anti-fraud tools like biometrics. They also use a rigorous five-step process.
  3. They are interviewed before coming to Canada.
  4. Once in Canada, they are screened by Canada’s security services. Thanks to these precautions, security experts say the chances of an ISIS terrorist getting through are infinitesimal.
  5. As I said earlier, families are on the priority list, (particularly female-headed households), unaccompanied minors and the sick, not single individuals.
  6. Not accepting refugees is an even greater threat to national security.

Filthy and unguarded refugee camps are hotbeds for terrorist activities. Perhaps not surprisingly, terrorists find it remarkably easy to recruit fighters in squalid and hopeless camps teeming with desperate and disenfranchised people.

  1. Accepting refugees strikes a blow at ISIS since ISIS relies on extortion and the taxes they collect from the vast swaths of territory they control. The New York Times reported that extortion and taxation, as well as kidnapping ransoms, accounte

    d for $620 million in 2014. That’s more than the $600 million they made by stealing from state-owned banks in Iraq and from oil sales.

  2. ISIS is relying on the West to refuse Syrian refugees and increased Islamophobia in the West to aid their recruitment efforts. ISIS has released a video telling fleeing Syrian refugees that the “infidel” West will never accept them, and that even if we do, we’d make them give up Islam.

Strategic interest, coupled with compassion, calls on us to accept the refugees and give them a warm home. By doing so we can will defeat ISIS in their own game.

Ref: Huffington Post, Canada; Globalnews, Canada; CTV News, Canada and other news sources

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW OF FARHAN AKHTAR BY KABERI D. CHATTERJEE
FROM CANADA FOR THE SOUTH ASIAN NEWS, CANADA

He directs, writes scripts, produces, acts, sings, dances and writes poetry. With that powerhouse of talent, he is increasingly getting compared to the other genius multi-talented persona of Indian cinema, Kishore Kumar. “It’s just one life,” he says. “It’s totally fine to not have to do just one thing for your entire life, if you can do different things which you are passionate about. You can follow those dreams and hopefully, even do well at them.” With Wazir soaring to the box-office ceiling and his cult film, Rock On! 2 coming up, he is increasingly being recognized as the most cerebral actor Bollywood has ever produced. Kaberi Dutta Chatterjee had a long-distance mid-night chat with the actor-director-musician-singer-poet-producer-scriptwriter, Farhan Akhtar.

 

Farhan-Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar needs no introduction. The IMDB website states in his profile that he worked as a cameraman in Yash Chopra’s Lamhe in 1991 and then in 1997 as assistant director for a strange film, Himalaya Putra.
With such a humble beginning, you’d hardly think this is the son of the famous lyricist Javed Akhtar and scriptwriter, Honey Irani. Javedji’s work as dialogue writer in Sholay and Deewar have set the benchmark for dialogues in the Hindi film industry.

After this inconspicuous start, Farhan arrived in Bollywood in style with his baby project, Dil Chahta Hai, which he wrote and directed and which is still thought to be one of the cult movies of Indian cinema.
There was no looking back for him after that as he soar to new heights with acting, singing and producing skills in Rock On! and directing iconic films like Lakshya, Don, (with Shah Rukh Khan) and Don 2. He acted in several noteworthy films, like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Luck By Chance and Karthik Calling Karthik, the latest being Wazir, where he plays an army protagonist in tandem with the legendary, Amitabh Bachchan. His upcoming film, Rock On!2, written by the same writer of Rock On, Pubali Chaudhuri, and directed by Abhishek Kapoor, has the country waiting in baited breath for another rock musical to hit the mass.

I was just lucky to catch the very busy persona as he had just completed the shooting of Rock On!2. Speaking to the actor-director-producer-singer at midnight (morning in Mumbai) was the most thrilling experience for me. He came across as a thorough gentleman, polite, patient with the questions and my excitement in talking to him, as not just a journalist, but also as a huge fan and admirer.

You direct, you sing, you write poetry, you dance, you write screenplays and you act with such intensity that you make each character etched in viewer’s minds and in the history of Indian cinema. Playing which role is most fulfilling to you? Which action makes you the happiest?

Farhan: You know, it’s quite an impossible question to answer. It’s all about (more…)