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Judge's mercy prevents Islamic honor killing, for now

Roohi Tabassum

This afternoon, a judge placed a temporary stay on deporting a Pakistani woman who feared her husband would kill her if she were reunited with him.

Roohi Tabassum has been a refugee living for years in Mississauga, Ontario, making a living as a hairdresser, while filing for permanent refugee residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Her husband, Faisal Javed, however, has been living in Dubai and has been sending her written death threats, saying she has dishonored him by touching the hair of both men and women at the salon where she works.

“If I go back I will be killed, and because of me, some of my relatives will be in trouble too,” Tabassum told the Toronto Star. “I don’t want to go to Pakistan.”

Tabassum showed the Star letters, purportedly from her husband, threatening her with an “honor killing” if she were deported.

One, from 2006, states, “Nobody here is in your favor. I am also very combative to you. If you are here, I could not leave you alive.”

Another from 2007 states, “I will finish you myself.”

A video of Tabassum’s story, produced by the Toronto Sun, can be seen below:

Judge Anne Mactavish of the Canadian Federal Court in Toronto ruled this afternoon that Tabassum, who was scheduled to be deported tomorrow, legally established she was at risk of suffering “irreparable harm” if she were sent back to Pakistan.

Tabassum’s attorney, Max Berger, however, told WND that the stay on Tabassum’s deportation is only in effect until a decision is reached on the appeal of her pre-removal risk assessment, or PRRA, used by immigration officials to evaluate the risk a person faces if sent back to their country.

“The problem is, PRRAs have a national acceptance rate of 3 percent,” Berger told the Star. “Lawyers joke amongst themselves that PRRA officers have only one stamp on their desk and that’s the ‘refuse’ stamp.”

In other words, while Tabassum is allowed to stay in Canada for now, the odds are still against her remaining. She may yet face deportation.

Patrizia Giolti, a spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency, told the newspaper that she could not discuss Tabassum’s case but said the decision to remove someone from Canada is “not taken lightly.”

“Everyone ordered removed is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal,” she said. “Once all avenues of recourse have been exhausted, we expect the person to respect our laws and leave Canada or be removed.”

Roohi Tabassum and her husband fled Pakistan in 2001 to escape persecution from a Shiite Muslim group. Tabassum was smuggled through the U.S. into Canada, while her husband was detained in the United Arab Emirates, where he has remained.

Tabassum has told newspapers that waiting for the appeal processes feels like “dying a slow death,” but she is still grateful for the support she has received from many since her plight was made public earlier this month.

“A lot of people have been calling because they know I will end up dead,” Tabassum told the Sun.

WND contributor Andrew Longman took up Tabassum’s cause in a recent WND commentary:

“Roohi is a woman on her own in a foreign country, and normative Christian morality is to show such a person protection, kindness, a certain kind of special deference that reflects the difficulty of her situation,” Longman writes. “Canada ought to extend her asylum for her persecutions and recognize that the contrast of protecting the innocent – as opposed to murdering them – is an immediate victory in the war on terror.”

Longman is encouraging his blog’s readers to “pelt the Canadian government” with demands that Tabassum not be deported.

“Let’s pressurize and shame the Canadian government into compliance on the basis that what we believe is absolutely superior: We protect stranded mothers on their own,” Longman writes. “We do not violate nor condemn them to their death.”