An Egyptian asylum seeker in Montreal says he will be deported from Canada and faces the death penalty imposed by the Egyptian justice system.
The Dr Ezzat Gouda remembers his wife’s disbelief when she told him that his request for refugee status had been denied and that he would be sent back to his country of origin.
“She asked, ‘How is this possible, in a country like Canada?’ “, he said in Arabic through an interpreter on Monday.
Mr. Gouda was speaking two days before returning to Egypt, where justice sentenced him to the death penalty.
The couple, who have had to live apart since 2014, have always dreamed of living together in Canada, Gouda said. Now they fear that they will have to bear the terror in Egypt together.
Mr Gouda, a retired obstetrician, was ordered to return to Egypt on 1er November, despite claims that he was persecuted and killed there because of his political affiliations after the Arab Spring revolution.
“I was surprised because I had produced official documents, authentic documents of my life sentence and my death sentence,” he said. He was convicted in absentia for two protests that turned violent in 2013.
Mr. Gouda claims to have submitted court documents to Canadian authorities showing he was sentenced to death in Egypt, but the senior immigration officer found those documents too vague and insufficient to accept his application for refugee status. refugee, according to a letter. decision
“I note that these two warrants are approximately eight years old and the details of the charges and reasons for the arrest have not been provided,” the official said in his decision.
Mr. Gouda was previously arrested several times without charge in 2011, when millions of Egyptians staged an uprising against then-president Hosni Mubarak and demanded democracy. It was one of several anti-government rebellions in the Middle East at the time, as part of the Arab Spring movement.
Gouda said he helped create the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party, which took power after the 2012 election.
In 2013, Egypt’s army chief seized power in a military coup against the elected party government. Since then, Egyptian authorities have detained thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters after branding them terrorists, in a campaign Amnesty International described as a “ruthless attempt to crush dissent”.
The days after the coup were filled with fear and pain for Mr. Gouda and his family. He said his 26-year-old son, Abdul Rahman, was shot dead while taking part in a march against the army takeover.
A few days later, dozens of armed men broke into his father’s house, where he was staying with several relatives, at 4 in the morning. They also destroyed his clinic, he said. Since then, he has not returned home or to the clinic.
The following month, on August 16, 2013, his second son, Omar, was shot and killed while participating in what Mr. Gouda describes it as a peaceful protest. Mr Gouda was working at the hospital when his wife called him to say their son had been killed. Omar’s body was transferred to the hospital morgue the next day.
Mr. Gouda said police and army officers continued to harass his family and even raided his home while he was away, until he fled to Djibouti in 2014.
He hoped his wife and two other children could join him, he said. However, his passport was confiscated and his family property was confiscated.
He continued to work as a doctor in Djibouti until he reached retirement age last year. Once he was not allowed to work, he had to leave the country, he said.
He was denied a visa to Canada last year and entered the country through the unofficial Roxham Road crossing between Canada and the United States in March 2022.
He told immigration officials he was afraid to live in the United States because of growing hatred and racism toward Muslims.
The story of Mr. Gouda matches the evidence he provided to immigration officials in his attempt to stay in Canada.
The decision to deny him refugee status was made in December.
“Knowing that Canada is the country of respect for human rights and freedoms, and that’s why I came here, I was surprised that this decision had been taken,” he confided.
During the last year, claims Mr. Gouda, his family continued to be harassed by the Egyptian state and questioned about their whereabouts.
He said his son-in-law was detained, tortured and interrogated for five months earlier this year.
“The Egyptian government is looking for me and if the Canadian government sends me to Egypt, the Canadian government will sentence me to death,” he said.
Mr. Gouda has booked a flight back to Egypt on the 1ster of November
Last year, dozens of Canadian Muslim organizations pleaded with the prime minister to intervene on behalf of asylum seekers in a similar situation in Vancouver.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council of Canada has warned that five families could be deported from Canada because of their ties to the same political entities.
Gouda hopes Canada will reconsider its expulsion order and reassess the risk it faces in Egypt.
He fears that his return will not be a happy reunion.
“My wife and daughters live in constant fear and this has only made things worse,” he said. They are worried and fear for my life if I come back. »
To see on video