It takes a retired naval officer to spearhead the move to win 24-year-old Canadian, Nazia Quazi’s freedom from the 7th century run hellish nightmare called the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Hopefully there will be someone there with a video camera filming the event for us. KGS
OTTAWA — A retired naval officer from Ottawa is giving back a medal of honour in protest of the Saudi government’s treatment of a Canadian citizen.And he hopes others will follow suit.Mark Brousseau, who served on HMCS Athabaskan in the early 1990s during the first Gulf war, received the Liberation of Kuwait medal from the government of Saudi Arabia.On Tuesday morning, he’ll head to the Saudi embassy in Ottawa to return it to the ambassador to protest the country’s male guardianship system that has kept 24-year-old Canadian Nazia Quazi in the country against her will.The Muslim woman, whose mother and brother live in Ottawa, went to Saudi three years ago to visit her father and to do the Umrah, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.But once she arrived, her father, whom she claims doesn’t approve of her boyfriend, took her travel documentation and identification and has refused to let her leave the country. In Saudi Arabia, the male guardianship system says that fathers must make decisions for their unmarried daughters. Quazi lives in housing provided by her employer, and says her father, whom she alleges has beaten her in the past, is becoming increasingly violent and abusive. MPs Paul Dewar and Bob Rae have called for action. Deepak Obhrai, minister of state for foreign affairs, says the government is in contact with Saudi officials, but can’t do much because of the country’s rules.Giving back the medal, Brousseau feels, will raise awareness and, if several of his shipmates — he figures about 700 Canadians have the medal — do the same, it will have more impact. He encourages them to contact Muslims for Progressive Values Ottawa (www.mpvottawa.com), a group that has been lobbying for Quazi’s release.“It’s a small step, but if more people find out about it, maybe they’ll get on the bandwagon,” he said.