Content Warning: This article contains descriptions of violence
In December 2016, Soleiman Faqiri died in segregation in a Lindsay, Ont. jail after being subdued by over 20 officers. Since then, both his family and members of the McMaster community have been waiting for answers surrounding the circumstances of his death and the punishments to follow.
Walid Abdulaziz, a student and member of McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice, is one of those people. Abdulaziz, who has been involved with the case since early 2017, has been helping both Faqiri’s family and the Justice for Soli movement, a movement created to seek out answers concerning the circumstances of Faqiri’s death.
Faqiri was a mentally ill man placed in segregation in a Lindsay, Ont. jail for a number of days who subsequently died under their care. He had been arrested about two weeks earlier on charges for aggravated assault and did not have a criminal record prior to this.
In the February 2018 report the Toronto Star obtained through a freedom of information access request, the Kawartha Lakes Police Services found that Faqiri had been pepper sprayed twice and held down by iron rods. As of now, Kawartha Lakes Police Service does not plan on charging any of the officers involved with the altercation.
Abdulaziz first heard of Faqiri’s case through a fellow member of MMPJ, who had learned about the case about a month after it occurred when it was mentioned by a speaker at a different university.
Faqiri was a mentally ill man placed in segregation in a Lindsay, Ont. jail for a number of days who subsequently died under their care.
“Obviously [MMPJ is] a social justice group so we wanted to get involved with as much as we could. Our first idea was to make an informative video that made its way around the internet to get publicity for the case. A lot of members have kept close ties to the movement,” Abdulaziz said.
Abdulaziz and other members of MMPJ helped the Faqiri family while they tried to find answers to why he died. They finally received a report of the exact nature of the attack sometime in February 2018.
Since then, Abdulaziz has been working with the Justice for Soli movement and the Faqiri family to inform people about Faqiri’s case.
Our immediate goal is to get answers and report on what happened, but our bigger picture is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
Justice for Soli executive
“Our immediate goal is to get answers and report on what happened, but our bigger picture is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” said Abdulaziz.
As a part of their education process, the Justice for Soli movement has been coming to different university campuses and giving talks to inform the public about Faqiri’s case. Yusuf Faqiri, Soleiman Faqiri’s brother, is a common guest speaker, who talks about his brother and the difficulties surrounding his death.
The Justice for Soli movement had scheduled an event on March 1, but due to the weather conditions and Mohawk College’s shutdown of all their buildings, they had to cancel their event which was set to take place in the Institute of Applied Health Sciences, a Mohawk building on the McMaster campus.
Nonetheless, Abdulaziz urges students to learn about the Justice for Soli movement.
“This kind of topic has so many intersections. There’s so many problems with the justice system that we have people with mental health concerns being mistreated by those in authority and other really grave injustices that affect a lot of people,” said Abdulaziz. “It’s not unrealistic to expect things to be better or just different,” he added.
The Justice for Soli movement plans on rescheduling their event on campus in the coming weeks.