More than 180 Canadian organizations and public figures have signed a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling on him to repatriate Omar Khadr - one of the largest efforts yet in a growing campaign to bring the detained Canadian home.
"We believe that your inaction with regards to this important case, compared to your active involvement in other cases (such as the repatriation of Brenda Martin from Mexico), has been, rightly or wrongly, interpreted by the Muslim community as indicative that your government considers Canadian Muslims to be second-class citizens," the letter, released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada, reads.
"While we most certainly hope and expect that this does not in any way reflect reality, it is nonetheless crucial that you understand that this is a growing perception within the Muslim community."
The letter, released publicly Tuesday morning, was addressed to Mr. Harper, and copied to the leaders of the three federal opposition parties, all of whom have already demanded Mr. Khadr's return.
The letter's signatories include virtually every major Muslim group in Canada, as well as several Jewish and human-rights organizations. Among the individuals who attached their names to the plea are former NDP leader Alexa McDonough, Naomi Klein and Maher Arar. Former Progressive Conservative MP Flora MacDonald, who served as secretary of state for external affairs under Joe Clark, also signed the letter.
Mr. Khadr, 22, is currently in legal limbo. Captured after an Afghanistan firefight in 2002, he has been held in a Guantanamo Bay prison camp for more than six years. He faced numerous charges under the controversial military commissions system, the most serious relating to his alleged murder of a U.S. soldier during the firefight. However, all charges before the military commissions system have been suspended at the request of the Obama administration, and it is widely believed that the new U.S. President will shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison camps and that no case will resume in a Guantanamo Bay courtroom.
Despite this, the Conservative government refuses to budge from its long-held position that it will not act to bring Mr. Khadr home until legal proceedings in the United States are exhausted.
In their letter to the Prime Minister, the organizations pushing for Mr. Khadr's repatriation say this is no longer a tenable position.
"With the welcome news that the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is slated to be shut down by President Obama, the inescapable reality now is that your government must find a viable and fair solution for Omar Khadr's case," the letter reads.