Scarborough resident jailed in Saudi Arabia

A former Scarborough resident is in jail in Saudi Arabia along with his two small kids and wife.

Majeed Uddin Ahmed and his wife Zareen were arrested on Sept. 22, 2011 in Jeddah, on unknown charges, according to a statement released by Jim Karygiannis, MP for Scarborough-Agincourt.

The reasons behind the arrest are unclear.

“There was a raw deal that his [Ahmed’s] father-in-law was working on with one of the Saudi princes and the Saudis just went in and swept the whole family and put them in jail,” Karygiannis said in an interview.

Kargyiannis says Diane Ablonczy, the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, has been lax in dealing with the case.

He says he contacted Ablonczy’s office after he learned of the arrest from Ahmed’s father, a longtime Scarborough resident.

He was told that the Canadian officials in Saudi Arabia will “try and go” to visit the family in prison.

“Later, I found out from the family that they’ve been told ‘This is out of our way and once we have a tour up there, we’ll go and see him,’” Karygiannis said.

Canadian officials visited the family two weeks after their arrest and told them ‘we are going to try,’ Karygiannis said.

“It’s been three weeks and we haven’t put pressure on the Saudis in order to deport or say that these people are being charged…for these specific reasons.”

However, the situation is complicated. While Ahmed is a Canadian citizen, his wife is an Indian citizen and one child has a Canadian passport while the other doesn’t.

According to Karygiannis, Ahmed had previously applied to sponsor his wife to Canada and was asked to release his work visa in Saudi Arabia.

“He said he needed a couple of days to do this and they [Canadian officials] refused.”

“He did all the right things to bring and sponsor his wife to Canada. Immigration Canada screwed it up and he’s stuck over there.”

The couple has two children, a 5-year-old and 1½-year-old, who are also in jail. The younger child is sick and needs medical attention.

“These children need the assistance of their government,” Karygiannis said.

“If this Minister can’t even help Canadian children when they are in need, she should be fired.”

Members of the family could not be reached for comment despite repeated phone calls.