Canadian Hindu group wants refugee status for anti-Islam filmmaker
7:30 pm, January 3rd, 2013
Credits: Alex Urosevic/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
SHAWN JEFFORDS | QMI AGENCY
TORONTO – A Canadian Hindu advocacy group is calling on the federal government to grant refugee status to a filmmaker being deported from Spain for his controversial film about the Prophet Mohammed.
Ron Banerjee, director of Canadian Hindu Advocacy, says Imran Firasat faces certain execution if he is deported to his native Pakistan because of the film which is critical of the founder of Islam.
“If this guy gets sent back to Pakistan it’s a certain death sentence,” Banerjee said. “They’ve got blasphemy laws there.”
Banerjee said Firasat had secured refugee status in Spain but was threatened with deportation if he released “The Innocent Prophet.” After it was released, the Spanish government took steps to rescind his residency, he said.
Banerjee said he has written Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, asking him to intercede and save Firasat’s life.
“It’s going to take quite a push for them to offer him refugee status,” he said. “It’s quite a step. It can be perceived in the wrong way, that they’re giving him refugee status because he made this film, which means are they endorsing the film. That’s not the case. They’d be endorsing his right to show such a film.”
Kenney’s office did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
The group has created a petition at TorontoAction.com. It is also planning demonstrations at the Spain and Pakistan consulates in Toronto.
“They are afraid of the potential violence,” he said of the Spanish government and its reason for deporting Firasat. “This movie has been up on YouTube for weeks and there hasn’t been any violence so far.”