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[cdn-nucl-l] Muslim sues nuclear plant over firing from Chalk River
In Today's National Post, November 9th, 2001
Muslim sues nuclear plant over firing
Dismissed as security risk: Egyptian-born engineer cites racial stereotyping
A former engineer at the Chalk River nuclear plant near Ottawa, who claims
to have been fired for suspected terrorist ties, plans to sue his former
employer and the authorities who investigated him for $5.5-million.
Mohamed Attiah, 54, an Egyptian-born Muslim father of four, alleges he was
picked up at Chalk River and interrogated at a nearby police station on
Sept. 20. When he returned to work, he said, he had been fired and his
security card deactivated.
Mr. Attiah said he had been told a month previously by his manager, Edward
Mutterback, that his employment was secure "indefinitely."
Mr. Attiah's lawyer, Joe Markin, confirmed a claim will be filed this
morning in federal court in Toronto, alleging Mr. Attiah's dismissal as a
security risk was based on unwarranted suspicions about his religion and
The claim names the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited as defendants.
Officials at all three agencies were unavailable or not commenting
According to the allegations, an RCMP officer and a CSIS investigator
allegedly questioned Mr. Attiah on why he, as a practising Muslim, did not
pray at work.
"I couldn't believe this is Canada," Mr. Attiah said yesterday, "that
someone was asking me in that kind of detail about my religious habits."
He alleges he was also pressed on his business interest in King Tut Tours,
Inc., a popular Middle Eastern travel agency in Toronto, which was owned by
a man named Mohamed Attia.
"They kept alleging that I own this agency, and I kept trying to explain to
them that the owner of this agency died several years ago, and my name
happens to be like his," he said.
Mr. Attiah said the investigators also insisted he had been interrogated for
terrorist ties in 1982, but he claims it was Mr. Attia, whose name is
Another Mohamed Attia, 23, of Scarborough, was stopped by police last month
in Toronto and found to be in possession of marijuana and a homemade bomb --
a 26-ounce liquor bottle filled with gunpowder.
"It's like 'John Smith' in Egypt," said Harry Kopyto, a legal agent who
filed a complaint yesterday on Mr. Attiah's behalf with the Canadian Human
Mr. Kopyto said the suspicions on which Mr. Attiah was allegedly
interrogated and fired, such as the presence of road maps in his car, amount
to "McCarthyite guilt by association ... and racial stereotyping."
"They wanted to know why he was stopped at the border a couple of years ago,
and in his luggage they found an army-issue sweater. He explained that it
was an item of clothes he never got around to returning following a tour of
duty with the Canadian Armed Forces as a reservist between 1991 and 1994. He
said it was inadvertent, and he eventually returned them late," Mr. Kopyto.
Mr. Attiah was also questioned on his relationship to Aly Hindy, with whom
he worked 20 years ago at Ontario Hydro.
Mr. Hindy subsequently became an imam, a Muslim priest, at a Toronto area
mosque, which Mr. Attiah visited for counselling during a period of marital
Last month, Mr. Hindy appeared as a character witness for an immigration
hearing for Mahmoud Jaballah, a teacher at a Toronto Muslim school who is
accused of having ties to those implicated in the 1998 bombings at the U.S.
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, an operation orchestrated by Osama bin
Laden. He denies the allegations.