Omar Khadr Changed My Life

By Sara Naqwi – Free Omar Khadr Now


In helping edit this article, a personal note of deep gratitude to Marlene Cuthbert, who was passionate and completely devoted to seeing justice brought to her friend, Omar, until her last days.
Marlene passed away on March 25, 2015.


I was twenty-five years old when I first saw Omar Khadr’s young face, staring back at me through my laptop screen. The innocence in his big brown eyes combined with the sombre expression drew me in; the straight-backed posture which is typically alien on a teenager confirmed he was staring into the lens of a camera for a passport photo, perhaps being told by the cameraman to remain expressionless, yet the photograph still captured his cheerful disposition. There was a trace of a faint moustache on his baby face, with a hint of a smile in his eyes and mouth. This was a photograph of a young boy, who was barely fourteen years old.

I was completing my final year of Bachelors in English from a Canadian university and had decided to take a course, “Introduction to Law and Justice”, out of curiosity. One of the assignments I was asked to write about was on Omar Khadr’s case, and that is how I came to know about the young man who was to become an integral part of my life eventually. When I scanned the details of his case online, I was overwhelmed by the amount of heavy information revolving around this child. The words Guantanamo Bay, torture, war on terror, indefinite detention combined with the images of hooded men in orange jumpsuits, chained like animals and caged under the blazing sun in Cuba, where the prison is based, confounded me. I knew it was wrong – who wouldn’t be horrified by this abnormal treatment of human beings? – but I couldn’t fully appreciate the gravity of the situation. Even though I was aware of how Muslims had suddenly become targets of racism since 9/11, and Continue reading