omar khadr dalhousie university

Omar Khadr to give speech at Canadian university and people are upset

One of Canada's top universities is causing an uproar for hosting an event featuring a very divisive figure.

Omar Khadr is due to take part in a discussion about children's rights and the use of minors in violence at Dalhousie University in Halifax next month, ostensibly to share his personal experience of combat between U.S. forces and the Taliban in Afghanistan when he was only 15.

Canadian-born Khadr was convicted of multiple war crimes he committed while still a juvenile — the first case of its kind since World War II — including killing a U.S. army sergeant as an al-Qaeda conspirator under the direction of his father. 

He consequently spent years in the infamous Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, and later successfully sued the Canadian government for millions in rights infringements.

His story is extremely controversial, with human rights groups like Amnesty International considering him a victim as a child soldier, and others deeming him a dangerous terrorist.

An Alberta judged ruled that Khadr's had completed his sentence last spring, while U.S. courts more recently refused to hear an appeal that his crimes were not considered war crimes when committed.

The response to the news of Dalhousie's event has been mixed but passionate on both sides.

Many note that those contending Khadr's appearance are the same group who are quick to defend free speech when it is in the case of someone with more conservative views, like trans-exclusionary radical feminist Meghan Murphy.

Others don't believe the university should provide a platform for a convicted "terrorist."

Children’s Rights Upfront: Preventing the Recruitment and Use of Children in Violence is still slated to take place at Dalhousie's Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on February 10 as part of the institution's Open Dialogue series, in partnership with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.

It will also feature memoirist and former Sierra Leone child soldier Ishmael Beah and CBC journalist Nahlah Ayed.

Lead photo by

Joshua Sherurcij at 2008 protests to bring Khadr back to Canada from Guantanamo Bay

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