Book chronicles one woman’s fight to free her husband

Moniza Mazigh, a woman known to be of bravery and courage, spoke about her book to a packed audience at the Eaton Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

She spoke about the book she’s written titled, ‘Hope and Despair,’ which is now available at all Indigo and Chapter bookstores.

“Sometimes I go and write a few words, “Mazigh said, “and I don’t even read what I’m writing. It was very difficult for me to go deep into my feelings and express myself that way.”

Her husband was arrested in 2002 in New York City on suspicion of having terrorist links. After being held without charge and without a lawyer present, Arar was secretly flown to a Syrian prison where he was held for a year and tortured. Following a public outcry and a media battle waged by Mazigh, Arar was released and returned to Canada in 2003.

“I don’t think I blame God for what happened, because I’ve always had a lot of faith and it’s that faith that has kept going through all of this” Mazigh said. “I always wanted to show my capabilities and this event had given me the opportunity to show my strength and write about it.”

The book Mazigh was promoting and speaking about was about how the events first came into place, with Arar being arrested at JFK Airport in New York City after returning early from a family vacation.

“Everything happened all of a sudden, completely all at once,” Arar said. “I was in a world where human rights and dignity were respected and taken to a place where humanity was non-existent.”

“It was always great getting the letters” Arar said, “but there was always a pain when I read them. It was great knowing how my family was doing, but it was even harder realizing I wasn’t there myself.”

Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and in 1991 came to Canada at the age of 21, settling in Ottawa. She has a PhD in financial economics from McGill University in Montreal and raises their two kids, Houda and Baraa.

“I was doing what I was doing for my kids” Mazigh said “It was always for them. Ever since Mehar was arrested, I hadn’t been able to cry. I guess I just became hard inside and I just couldn’t do it.”

Mazigh explained how she still has mixed perceptions and feelings about what might happen in the future, relating that to what has already happened to her husband. Mazigh recalled what she first experienced when she realized that something was wrong with her husband.

“I could feel it in my heart” Mazigh said “That something was wrong, especially when he didn’t call me, or when I couldn’t reach him.”

Arar received an apology in January of 2007 by the Canadian government, along with  $10.5 million in compensation.

“I believe if there’s harm” Mazigh said, “there should be compensation. Either of us didn’t think about numbers or think of how much we would get, but for us, this is a poison gift,” she said, of the government’s financial compensation.