Interesting article from the Toronto Sun today, HT (Brooke Adams–Salt Lake Tribune reporter/blogger). A Pakastani Muslim, Shaikh Akhtar Hussain, who is also a retired banking executive, is trying to immigrate to Toronto. The problem? Well, horror of horrors, he’s a practicing polygamist!
Canadian immigration officials denied Mr. Hussain entry earlier solely based on his religious belief in the Muslim (Old Testament based) practice of polygamy:
A Pakistani man whose Muslim religion allows him to have up to four wives has been given a second immigration hearing that will decide if can resettle in Canada if he only brings one spouse.
Shaikh Akhtar Hussain, a retired banking executive, said he’ll only bring his first of two wives and their six children if he’s allowed to immigrate to Toronto from his native Pakistan, according to a Federal Court of Canada decision.
Hussain was refused entry earlier this month by a Canadian visa officer in Pakistan who deemed him inadmissible because he practises polygamy.
“He intended to be accompanied by one wife if granted status in Canada,” the court heard. The officers referred to his case as a “peculiar, polygamist family situation.”
Madame Justice Elizabeth Heneghan, has ordered immigration officials to grant Mr. Hussain another immigration hearing noting that his private life has nothing to do with his immigration status:
Madame Justice Elizabeth Heneghan said a visa officer’s view of Hussain’s private life had little to do with his immigration to Canada and ordered another immigration hearing, slated to take place soon.
Mr. Hussain’s lawyer pointed out that:
“Our immigration law doesn’t address … bringing both wives to Canada,” Hussain’s Toronto lawyer, Ali Amini, said yesterday. “I am optimistic this family will get their visas and be coming to Canada soon.”
Hussain told the truth about his polygamous relationship to immigration officials, Amini said.
“It is quite common under Muslim laws for a man to have up to four wives,” he said. “This is a very good decision for members of the Muslim community.”
If the second hearing is unsuccessful, they plan to appeal on constitutional grounds, freedom of religion:
Amini vows to appeal the case on constitutional grounds based on religious freedom if a new hearing is unsuccessful.
He said the second wife can be sponsored to Canada by Hussain after a period of time.
Hussain and his family can be in Toronto in about six months to a year if he wins his hearing, his lawyer said.
What really strikes me as almost comical is the refrain from a Canadian immigration lawyer who flatly rejects the polygamy argument claiming it is against the law:
But Quebec immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who handles many federal court cases, said people involved in polygamous relationships are not allowed in Canada.
“Polygamy is illegal under the Criminal Code,” Kurland said yesterday.
Well, I say, more power to you Mr. Hussain. If the great Canadian social experiement with genderless marriage is OK, then current anti-polygmay laws should likewise be swept away. Afterall, if the anti-miscegenation law argument is good enough for genderless marriage–why not polygamy? This case and Canada’s clumsy attempt to enforce their questionable polygamy laws against the FLDS in Bountiful will be an interesting watch.