MONTREAL - A Canadian Muslim has filed a lawsuit against Quebec provincial police for arresting and humiliating him as a suspected terrorist over a casual text message to work colleagues encouraging them to "blow away" the competition at a trade show, the Canadian Press reported on Thursday, February 2.
"Without any evidence, and without any follow-up, the (provincial police) just cannot go about arresting North Africans, of Muslim persuasion, inferring they are terrorists, giving them a police record, and destroying their reputation, credibility and livelihoods," the motion filed by lawyer Julius Grey said.
Telecommunications sales manager Saad Allami said an innocent message, aimed at pumping up his staff, devastated his life.
In his message, sent on January 21, he urged his staff to "blow away" the competition at a trade show in New York City, a term widely used in finance.
Three days later, the Quebec man was arrested by provincial police while picking up his seven-year-old son at school.
Without warning by police, Allami was arrested and detained for over a day while his house was searched.
Moreover, his work colleagues were detained for hours at the US border because of their connection to him.
Allami, who was 40 when he was arrested, says he has no links to terrorist organizations or the Islamic movement and that police acted without any evidence or research.
Following a search of Quebec's courthouse database that found no other references to him, he was released with no charges.
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.
A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
A 2006 Environics poll of 2,045 Canadians found out that 49 percent of those who had never had a contact with Muslims held a negative view of them.
On the other hand, the majority of 70 percent of those who were often in contact with Muslims had positive views of them.
As Allami was arrested, a team of police officers stormed into his home, telling his wife she was married to a terrorist.
"The whole time, the officers kept repeating to the plaintiff's wife that her husband was a terrorist," the filing reads.
"The treatment of the plaintiff and his wife was cavalier, illegal, aggressive, accusatory, and in violation of their most fundamental rights."
Facing humiliation and defamations, the Moroccan native is seeking $100,000 from the Quebec provincial police force, one of its sergeants, and the provincial government.
As the case was set to be presented at the Montreal courthouse on March 5, provincial police spokesman Guy Lapointe says the force is aware of the case but will not comment as it is before the courts.
A Justice Department spokesperson also declined to comment.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the Canadian parliament passed tough laws to fight terrorism.
Under one provisions of the laws, police had the power to arrest suspects without a warrant and detain them for three days without charges.
Another provision allowed a judge to compel a witness to testify in secret about past associations or perhaps pending acts under penalty of going to jail if the witness didn't comply.
Last August 2010, the Canadian Prime Minister angered Muslims after associating them with terrorism as well as declaring plans to reintroduce draconian anti-terror powers.