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Canada Moves to Deport Palestinian Woman Over Hamas Links

 July 3, 2024

Canada is moving to deport a Palestinian woman, Majeda Sarassra, due to her previous employment with an organization linked to Hamas, the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN)-Canada.

Sarassra, who argues her involvement was minimal, is currently appealing the decision at the Federal Court, as the Post Millennial reports.

Deportation Order Issued by Immigration Tribunal

The Canadian immigration tribunal has ordered the deportation of Majeda Sarassra. This decision stems from her employment with IRFAN-Canada, a group that the Canadian government has designated as a terrorist organization due to its alleged links to Hamas.

IRFAN-Canada lost its charitable status in 2011 after Canadian authorities discovered it had funneled $14.6 million to groups associated with Hamas.

The Canada Revenue Agency seized videos from IRFAN-Canada that glorified "martyrdom" and framed the Palestinian conflict with Israel as a religious war.

In 2014, IRFAN-Canada was officially placed on Canada's terrorist list, with accusations of using its charitable status to support Hamas financially. Sarassra, who worked at IRFAN-Canada’s Bethlehem office in Israel, was responsible for distributing funds to orphans.

Federal Court Appeal Pending

Sarassra moved to Canada from Venezuela in 2016, seeking refugee status. She claims she was unaware of IRFAN-Canada’s blacklisting until after her arrival in Canada. Initially, the Immigration and Refugee Board sided with Sarassra against the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), but a subsequent review after an appeal identified her as a significant IRFAN-Canada member in Palestine, thus associating her with terrorist activities.

"She held a position of trust given her responsibility for the distribution of money," the ruling stated, noting that Hamas requires "funding and support from sympathizers and charities around the world" to achieve its objectives. The ruling further noted that "most of the funding for Hamas comes from outside of Palestinian territories, largely from global charities," and that "the evidence shows links between IRFAN Canada and Hamas."

Claim of Minimal Involvement

Sarassra maintains that her role at IRFAN-Canada was minimal and lasted only for one year until 2014. Her appeal to the Federal Court argues that she had only "low-level involvement" in the organization. She insists her duties were limited to disbursing funds to orphans and that she did not engage in any terrorist activities.

The Federal Court is now tasked with reviewing the case to determine whether Sarassra’s deportation order will be upheld or overturned. Her case highlights the complexities involved in immigration and national security, particularly when it involves organizations with alleged terrorist ties.

IRFAN-Canada's Controversial History

The history of IRFAN-Canada has been fraught with controversy. In 2011, Canadian authorities revoked its charitable status, citing substantial financial contributions to entities connected with Hamas. This decision was based on the discovery of videos and other materials promoting martyrdom and depicting the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a religious war.

By 2014, IRFAN-Canada was officially added to Canada’s list of terrorist organizations. The government alleged that the organization had misused its charitable status to fund Hamas, a group known for its militant activities and designation as a terrorist organization by several countries, including Canada.

Sarassra’s employment at IRFAN-Canada's Bethlehem office involved the distribution of funds to orphans, a role that Canadian authorities have interpreted as indicative of her membership in the organization. Her defense hinges on the argument that her involvement was limited and that she was unaware of the organization’s terrorist designation during her tenure.

Implications for Immigration and National Security

This case underscores the challenges faced by immigration authorities in balancing national security concerns with the rights of individuals seeking refuge. Sarassra’s appeal to the Federal Court will be a critical test of how these issues are navigated in Canada’s legal system.

Sarassra has stated that she believes Hamas is a terrorist organization and has distanced herself from any terrorist activities. "This is a terror organization, whose objective is not only the destruction of the state of Israel but also despotic control over the Palestinian civilians," she said of Islamic Jihad, another group involved in the conflict.

Her case remains a contentious issue, with significant implications for Canada’s immigration policy and its approach to national security. As the Federal Court reviews her appeal, the outcome will be closely watched by those on both sides of the debate.

Conclusion

The deportation case of Majeda Sarassra highlights the intricate balance between national security and individual rights within Canada’s immigration system. Sarassra, a Palestinian woman, faces deportation due to her previous employment with IRFAN-Canada, an organization linked to Hamas.

Despite her claims of minimal involvement, Canadian authorities have identified her as a key member of the organization in Palestine. The Federal Court's decision on her appeal will have far-reaching implications for how Canada handles similar cases in the future.