The Koran is pictured.
Credits: REUTERS/Stuart Price/AU-UN IST PHOTO/Handout
KINGSTON, ON -- Religion could play a big part in the rehabilitation of Omar Khadr now that he is back in Canada.
Khadr arrived in Canada Saturday to serve the remainder of an eight-year sentence.
“It's new ground for everyone involved,” said Sikander Ziad Hashmi, imam of the Islamic Society of Kingston.
“Obviously, religion played a big part in his life.”
Khadr is two years into an eight-year sentence for five war crimes, including the 2002 killing of United States special forces medic Christopher Speer.
He returned to Canada after spending years detained at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Hashmi said religion will be among many avenues – along with education and psychological treatment – that correctional officials will take to try and rehabilitate Khadr, something that must be done to ensure his re-integration into society.
Hashmi said Correctional Service of Canada has access to qualified religious leaders from all faiths who can counsel inmates.
“Regardless of where we stand on what he did, he is going to be released, either next year or eight years from now,” Hashmi said.
Unlike some Middle East countries, Canada has no established de-radicalization program in place to handle convicted extremists, said Christian Leuprecht, an associate professor of political science at Royal Military College of Canada and Queen's University.
The Khadr case will likely set the tone for how the country handles convicted violent political extremists, Leuprecht said.
As an inmate in the Canadian justice system, Khadr will be afforded the same benefits and doubts as all inmates, he said.
Khadr could be eligible for parole as early as next year, but Leuprecht said being granted parole will depend on how well his rehabilitation goes.