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Montreal - Non-Status Algerian Spokesperson Denied Immigration Status

Ethnic week off to rocky start

Minister questioned in Algerian's case. Courchesne agrees to meet today to
review rejection of activist's bid for permanent status

PEGGY CURRAN
The Montreal Gazette Monday, November 24, 2003

A love-in heralding the accomplishments of new Quebecers hit a bit of snag
yesterday when the minister was grilled about one that got away - an
Algerian community organizer and political activist whose bid for
permanent status was rejected on Friday.

Immigration Minister Michelle Courchesne had barely wrapped up her speech
launching Quebec Intercultural Week - an annual event promoting harmony
between ethnic communities and honouring contributions of immigrants and
their offspring - when members of the Action Committee for Non-Status
Algerians asked what she would do to halt the deportation of Mohamed
Cherfi.

In the five years that Cherfi, 33, has lived in Quebec, he has worked as a
spokesperson for the action committee. Supporters say Cherfi has assisted
dozens of Algerians who had been living underground gain legal status in
Quebec, helping them file applications and accompanying them to
Immigration Quebec hearings.

On Friday, Cherfi's appeal in his own case was dismissed on grounds that
he hadn't worked enough and hadn't integrated into Quebec society.

However, both he and his friends say he is being punished for political
activity, including arrests while occupying provincial and federal
immigration offices this year.

Cherfi is due in court Dec. 2 on charges of obstructing police during
separate protests last March at the Montreal office of then immigration
minister R