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He Was Just A Kid. An Extraordinary One.

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He was just a kid. An extraordinary one.

Listen to Moazzam Begg speak about one of the youngest prisoners in Guantanamo, Omar Khadr, a soft spoken boy from Canada who was put through extreme torture. Yet, after 13 years of imprisonment, he overcame his ordeal.

[As part of the MuslimMatters x CAGE Dhul Hijjah Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo, we bring you a series, Guantanamo Memories, of stories from behind bars]

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One of the blessings of Ramadan is, without a doubt, the time we spend with our family and our children especially.

Many people don’t know that there were kids detained in Bagram and Guantanamo too. One of the few I met was a 15-year old Canadian boy called Omar Khadr.

When the US soldiers brought him in, he was in a horrific state. US soldiers who captured him had shot him point-blank in the back with a shotgun.

He also had shrapnel wounds all over his body, and shrapnel had blinded him in one eye. His injuries looked like something out of a horror movie.

I don’t know how he survived these injuries…but he did.

I first saw him in Bagram. Despite his injuries, soldiers would scream insults at him, with his hands and legs tied and a hood over his head.

He was quiet and very patient. He never complained. Ever.

In fact, when he recited the Quran in his soft, gentle voice, he appeared even more serene.

Eventually, we were moved to the same cell. We would spend our time having muted conversations (talking would get you tortured).

Like me, he was eventually transferred to Guantanamo. That’s where he grew up and became a man.

When I was released, I felt compelled to let the world know about his case and started campaigning for him. I often spoke with his family and lawyers.

In time, his case became a symbol of Guantanamo’s injustice. More people started to demand his release.

One man in particular stood out in the campaign: Dennis Edney, Omar’s lawyer. For years, he spent his time and his own money to represent and defend Omar. Until Omar was finally released…after 13 years in prison.

I first spoke to him after his release via video call – alongside former prisoners Shaker Aamer, Ruhal Ahmed, Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal. We called him from outside the US embassy in London on the 14th anniversary of Guantanamo.

Last year, the Canadian government finally apologized to Omar for their role in his abuse. The world could finally see and hear from Omar himself.

His smile did the rest.

Through stories like Omar’s I have learnt that most of the time, justice can only be served when people join together to demand it.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Whoever removes from a believer a hardship in this life, Allah will remove from him a hardship from the hardships of the Day of Judgment.”

Don’t forget to join MuslimMatters and CAGE this month as we work to Close Guantanamo. Check out how you can act today

 

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Related Reading:

Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

A Dutiful Son Found Hanged In His Cell

A Dutiful Son Found Hanged In His Cell

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

CAGE advocates for due process, the rule of law and an end to the injustices of the War on Terror. CAGE is an independent grassroots organisation striving for a world free of injustice and oppression. We campaign against discriminatory state policies and advocate for due process and the rule of law. We work closely with survivors of abuse and mistreatment across the globe, documenting their abuse and enabling them to take action and access due process. We carry out cutting edge research and provide a voice for survivors of the war on terror, challenging the dominant narrative of suspect communities and the perceived threat of terrorism. We empower communities through educational workshops, community events and informative seminars.

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