Hope and Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Arar

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McClelland & Stewart, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 258 pages
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The inspiring story of Monia Mazigh’s courageous fight to free her husband, Maher Arar, from a Syrian jail.

On September 26, 2002, Maher Arar boarded an American Airlines plane bound for New York, returning early from vacation with his family because a work project needed his attention. He was a Canadian citizen, a telecommunications engineer and entrepreneur who had never been in trouble with the law. His nightmare began when he was pulled aside by Immigration officials at JFK airport, questioned, held without access to a lawyer, and ultimately deported to Syria on the suspicion that he had terrorist links. He would remain there, tortured and imprisoned for over one year. Meanwhile his wife, Monia, and their two children stayed on visiting family in Tunisia, unaware that their lives were about to be torn apart.

Upon her return to Canada, Monia was horrified at the media’s and public’s willingness to assume that the Canadian police and intelligence agencies, and their American counterparts, take on her husband as a terrorist was correct. She began a tireless campaign to bring public attention and government action to her husband’s plight, eventually turning the tide of public opinion in Arar’s favour, and gaining his release and return to Canada. Of her willingness to speak out, she has said that she was never afraid: “I had lost my life. I didn’t have more to lose.”

This is a remarkable story of personal courage, and of an extraordinary woman who lets us into her life so that other Canadians can understand the denial of rights and the discarding of human rights her family suffered. Candid, poignant, and inspiring, this is the most important book of the season.

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About the author (2008)

Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. She holds a Ph.D. in finance from McGill University and speaks Arabic, French, and English fluently. She has worked at the University of Ottawa and taught at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband, Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year. She campaigned tirelessly for his release during that time. In 2004, she ran in the federal election for the NDP, coming third but gaining the most votes for the riding the NDP had ever received. Dr. Mazigh lives in Ottawa with her husband and two children.

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