By Mike Drolet, Global News
TORONTO — It was an emotional homecoming Saturday for Suaad Haji
Mohamud, the 31-year-old Toronto woman whose nightmare stranding in Kenya
ended late last week when a Kenyan court dropped charges of using someone
else’s passport and being illegally in the country.
Mohamud landed at Pearson International Airport Saturday afternoon, ending a
three-month ordeal that began when officials said she didn’t look like her
“I’m really happy to come home,” Mohamud told a crowd of supporters gathered
at the airport, as she embraced her son, Mohammed Asbscir, 12.
Mohammed, who had not seen his mother for all that time, was among the mob
of supporters, singing and waving Canadian flags, who greeted Mohamud as she
arrived. “I’m very happy to be with my son,” Mohamud said, wiping away tears.
Mohamud had only planned to be in Kenya for three weeks. But when she
arrived at the Nairobi airport on May 21 to board her flight back home to Toronto,
a Kenyan immigration official said she did not look like the woman pictured in her
What was up for debate was the size of her lips, said Mohamud.
The Canadian High Commission in Nairobi sided with the official, saying it carried
out “conclusive investigations” and confirmed Mohamud was an “impostor.”
Kenyan authorities then charged her with possessing and using a passport
issued to another person, as well as being present unlawfully in the country even
though she provided half a dozen pieces of identification proving she was who
she said she was.
In spite of that, Canadian consular officials voided her passport and sent it to
Kenyan authorities as evidence in their prosecution.
In all, Mohamud spent eight days in jail before being released on bail.
But her legal troubles continued until last week when DNA testing finally proved
A Kenyan judge dropped the charges against Mohamud Friday, with the
Canadian High Commission in Nairobi providing her with emergency travel
papers the same day.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, and others, slammed the federal government
for its handling of the case, saying there was “no excuse” for the way Mohamud
The federal Opposition said Friday Mohamud’s ordeal shows Ottawa is not doing
enough to guarantee the rights and safety of Canadian citizens abroad.
“Holding a Canadian passport must mean the Canadian government will protect
you — no matter where, no matter when,” Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said in
a news release. “Instead, the Harper government handed Suaad Mohamud’s
passport over to Kenyan officials to aid in her prosecution. She’s only the latest
Canadian endangered abroad by a government that picks and chooses which
citizens it wants to protect.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended his government’s actions, saying
officials were working to get Mohamud home.
“There are more and more Canadians who have challenges — when they’re
abroad — of very different kinds,” Harper said in Chelsea, Que., Friday. “The
Department of Foreign Affairs does what it can to aid people, but we always
advise people to be cautious when they’re travelling.”
On Saturday, family spokesman Abdi Warsame said despite the controversy over
the Canadian government’s response, Mohamud “feels more Canadian than ever
“She was jailed for eight days for something she didn’t do,” he told media crews
at the airport.
“She was accused of being an impostor,”_Warsame said. “Now that she’s finally
home with her son she’s very happy.”
Khaled Mouammar, president of the Canadian Arab Federation, called the
government’s response to Mohamud’s case a “disgrace.”
“It’s another blemish in the history of Canadian human rights,” he said Saturday.
“You can’t expect to get protection from the Kenyan government . . . but you
expect it from the Canadian government.”
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service