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Yasmine Hassan

A second chance for Syrians

As Bashar AlAssad begins a third seven-year term in Syria, the suffering continues as Syrians try to recover from the destruction. The situation as it stands is horrible, Syria has been reduced to a pile of rubble, the Free Syrian Army has formed and fights against the military that was supposed to protect the people. Syrians have been imprisoned, gassed, shot, raped and tortured post-Arab Spring. They have lost their homes, their lives and their loved ones when they dared to dream of a democratic Syria. But while the various tolls that calculate the displaced and the diseased continue to rise, the dust settles on the story that the world was bombarded with everyday for years. Syria has been getting less and less coverage as people turn their attention to various other issues in the Middle East. But regardless of whether CNN or BBC cover Syria, the problem is still there and the people are still suffering. When faced with a situation of complete loss, one is also faced with major decisions that would alter one's future completely. This was the case for Jasim Dandachi, a born and bred Syrian who lived in the outskirts of Homs with his wife, three sons and daughter. Dandachi is not a political man, he prefers a peaceful life, but the fact that AlAssad reigned over his home for decades irked him. “We all had had enough. Enough of the oppression and the suffering,” explains Dandachi. “So we took to the streets in a peaceful way after we saw what happened in Tunisia and Egypt. We thought we deserved democratic freedoms as well.” But the kind people of Syria didn’t know what awaited them when they decided they wanted to express their opinions about their longtime president. “We all thought he had lost his… Read More

Picking and choosing citizens

Recently, Immigration and Citizenship Minister, Chris Alexander, has been pushing a bill that would amend the current citizenship act. In hopes that he may be able to exercise a certain level of control on who gets to live under the safety of the Canadian government and who gets to be shunned by it, Alexander has depicted a set of rules and regulations that will irk many. After reading the act, which can be found here, it is clear that the clauses are vague. Among the many reforms that Alexander wishes to bring about the ability to revoke citizenships to Canadians who are deemed “persons who, while they were permanent residents, engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada, and permanently barring those persons from acquiring citizenship.” He also wants to “increase the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after having been convicted of certain offences.” And last but not least, Alexander wishes to “establish a hybrid model for revoking a person’s citizenship in which the Minister will decide the majority of cases and the Federal Court will decide the cases related to inadmissibility based on security grounds, on grounds of violating human or international rights or on grounds of organized criminality.” Who exactly gets to decide what constitutes a criminal act or violation and who is deemed to have acted contrary to Canadian national interests is anyone’s guess. Alexander hopes to absorb a lot of that power himself, Amendment (H) is as follows: “establishing a hybrid model for revoking a person’s citizenship in which the Minister will decide the majority of cases and the Federal Court will decide the cases related to inadmissibility based on security grounds, on grounds of violating human or international rights or on grounds of organized criminality.” So… Read More

Think of the Youth

It seems that these days, election time has become very repetitive. Campaign trails are mounted and platforms are discussed and all this leads to politicians saying the same things over again without much thought being put into anything. Lower taxes, higher wages, kiss a baby’s forehead as they run out of the room and we have a full on successful campaign that will gain traction instantly. The same promises are said and the same lines are created whether it be the Conservative Party or the Liberal one, the political scene has become a gigantic pit of cheesy campaign slogans and forgotten promises. But in the midst of all this political hustle and bustle, one segment of society floats right beneath the radar although it carries a decent amount of influence when it comes to result night. The youth seem to have become apathetic towards this crucial democratic process and everyone is starting to wonder exactly why that’s happening. Whether it’s locally or internationally, the generation of young adults is finding trouble defining themselves politically and choosing parties to subscribe to because none of them actually speak to them. We are just not being targeted by politicians when they are mounting their campaign and so this leads many to stay out of politics because it just doesn’t speak our language. During the Quebec provincial elections, young adults became very engaged in the politics because they were dragged in on various levels. The fact that many students attempted to vote and were not given that right led to many more to express their concern to the media and make sure that they went out and performed their civic duty. Marois and her Charter of Rights also sparked many debates among the youth who were concerned for their personal rights to wear whatever… Read More

The conflict that spans through the ages

Although it is known under a multitude of different names depending on who’s debating what point from which angle, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a topic that has been on the mind of generations past and generations to come. Other conflicts and issues from the region have made headlines many times throughout history but this one continues to be a stable hum in the background as new developments come up and change the dichotomy of the situation. But the most recent of developments is definitely one that will shift the tectonic plates of the conflict. After a seven year tumultuous relationship, Palestinian political parties Hamas and Fatah have declared a reconciliation along with the formation of a unity government and elections soon thereafter. This is a big step for Palestinians who will now be united under one representative government rather than have to deal with the internal strife that was caused by the two clashing parties. This may particularly aid in the peace process, if it is to pick up again, as Hamas has forsaken its conditions to not participate in the talks nor to discuss security coordination ties with Israel. So while this could potentially be a very big step in the right direction in terms of finally putting this conflict to rest and reaching some sort of agreement that will satisfy all parties, others still see a long tunnel ahead. Reconciliations have been discussed many times between both parties and have eventually amounted to nothing but more violence and a larger rift between both and so it is hard to see how this will be any different given that the core issues are still on the table. While John Kerry had dubbed himself the Middle East’s saving grace earlier this year and took it upon himself to attempt to… Read More

Has the Egyptian revolution lost its way?

I was in Cairo during the revolution and although I didn’t make my way to Tahrir Square, the energy felt among Egyptians was infectious. Everyone felt that a change was coming and that this time, they were in control of their future and the future of their country. For once, it seemed that Egyptians were optimistic about where Egypt was going. The people had had enough of corrupt government officials and a system meant to quash its citizens rather than see them flourish. The idea spread like wildfire and before any of us knew it, people from all walks of life were chanting “down with the military regime”. Today, the country continues to struggle on its path towards a true and transparent democracy. Last year, Egyptians celebrated as they participated in the first ever democratic elections that left them choosing between a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the former regime they had just overthrown. A difficult choice that left many feeling disheartened as they chose Morsi over Shafik simply because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote in the old regime. Lacking in tact and any type of plan, the Muslim Brotherhood took over government in Egypt and destroyed itself a year later during the June 30th protests that ousted Morsi. They wanted too much too soon as they attempted to come up with laws that overstepped every boundary known to man. In a country that is known for its entertainment industry, these new laws were not well received by the locals in any way. Three years and two revolutions later, Egypt has found itself right back where it started as locals go into their second democratic elections consisting of a military candidate and a civilian candidate with Nasserist political leanings. However, the race is not even,… Read More
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