Update on the Jaggi Singh story

12.16.02

The Montreal Gazette reports that he’s not being detained, and is free to leave Israel at any time. Instead, he is trying to force Israel to let him in, and has won a temporary injunction in the courts to stay. Furthermore, he’s appealing to the Canadian Department for Foreign Affairs for assistance.

“If early reports are correct and he decides to stay, there’s not much we can do,” Lemay said, adding that Israel, like Canada and the United States, has the right to refuse entry to any individual it deems a security risk.

Singh, an outspoken critic of globalization, has a criminal record stemming from charges laid in the 1997 APEC protests in Vancouver. In October 2000, he was charged with rioting at the G20 meeting in Montreal.

Singh was also held for two weeks on weapons charges at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001 after using a catapult to launch stuffed animals over a security fence. The charge was later dropped.

In September, Singh took part in violent protests that prevented former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia University.

Local Palestinian rights groups were quick to condemn the move to block Singh’s entry into Israel.

“We see this as the criminalization of political dissent, and that’s unacceptable in a democratic society,” said Abdirahman Ahmed of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights.

Precisely how is this “criminalization of dissent”? It’s criminalization of criminal activity, such as rioting and violence. Those are not acceptable forms of dissent no matter what Singh and his cronies would like to have you believe. Furthermore, Singh is not an Israeli citizen. A democracy gives free and equal rights to all its citizens, but there’s never any expectation that foreign citizens should have all the same rights as those of a nation.

If Israel doesn’t want to admit Jaggi Singh, it has plenty of reasons – but doesn’t really need any. Countries have the right to decide who to let into their borders. And Singh, with his past record as a security risk in every situation he’s ever at, doesn’t seem to be someone Israelis would want hanging around. I don’t blame them.

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