omar khadr

Omar Khadr just spoke at Dalhousie University and here's what people are saying

A Canadian University has garnered a lot of attention for holding a speaking event featuring the contentious Omar Khadr yesterday.

Khadr delivered a keynote address at Dalhousie University's symposium on the use of children in war, which was held in partnership with The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. He was joined by former Sierra Leone child soldier and activist Ishmael Beah.

It was Canadian-born Khadr's first public appearance since his stint at Guantanamo Bay, which followed his conviction for killing an American soldier in combat in Afghanistan when he was only 15 — an incident that some believe defines him as a terrorist, and others, a victim of the recruitment of minors in violence.

Khadr, now 33, was at the time acting as an al-Qaeda conspirator under the direction of his father, who brought him to Afghanistan.

Khadr successfully sued the federal government for millions in human rights violations for their complicity in his eight-year detention at Guantanamo, after which he pleaded guilty to murder in violation of the laws of war, among other charges — a move that he said was largely to get repatriated to Canada.

There were apparently groups outside of the event protesting the fact that Khadr was being provided a platform, including veterans unsatisfied with the way he's been portrayed in media in the 18 years he's been in the public eye, as well as the government settlement.

The event featured a Q&A, but questions were screened and their subject matter somewhat restricted.

Notably present in the crowd at the panel was outspoken and controversial right-wing activist Ezra Levant, who referred to Khadr as "a convicted Al Qaida [sic] terrorist" when tweeting about the fact that the two took the same flight from Toronto to Halifax for the event.

Levant proceeded to interrogate Khadr at the airport and get into an altercation with police. He also apparently had much to say during the talk.

Khadr received a standing ovation after the two-hour discussion, in which he touched on his experience in Guantanamo and his life in Canada now, saying "I always have to carry myself in a way that I'm always trying to convince people that I'm not bad."

Lead photo by

@wildsweetpeaphotography


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