Should a Med Student be Expelled for Sharing a Belief in the Sanctity of Life?
In July 2020, the University of Manitoba expelled med student Rafael Zaki on the basis of Non-Academic Misconduct in the form of unprofessional conduct.
This all started when Mr. Zaki made Facebook posts about the right to bear arms and the right to life. Mr. Zaki’s posts prompted 18 anonymous complaints in the College of Medicine and an investigation by the Deans of the College. Assistant Dean Dr. Ripstein headed up the investigation, acting as prosecutor, decision maker and witness. He held a harrowing seven interviews with Mr. Zaki, where he, without evidence, accused Mr. Zaki of supporting rape at gunpoint, shooting up abortion clinics, and being transphobic, homophobic and racist. Mr. Zaki never did see the full complaints against him, even though this was required under University policy.
In August, Mr. Zaki filed a Notice of Application for judicial review at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba, as well as a motion for an injunction which asked the Court to allow Mr. Zaki to continue to attend school until the determination of his judicial review application. The Court refused to grant the injunction to Mr. Zaki, a ruling Mr. Zaki is appealing in the Court of Appeal of Manitoba.
On April 7, 2021, Carol Crosson of the Advocate appeared in the Court of Queen’s Bench for Mr. Zaki to argue against his expulsion from the U of M. We now await a decision.
Mr. Zaki is a Coptic Christian. His parents are Coptics who immigrated to Canada with the hope of finding freedom from the persecution they suffered on account of their religious beliefs. Mr. Zaki’s view on life is at the core of his beliefs, he can no more recant this belief than to deny his very soul.
Mr. Zaki’s case is a sad commentary on a university so intolerant of certain views that it turns on its head the idea of the institution being a bastion of free speech. Indeed, any student who holds unpopular views can expect that the inquisition will begin, and that without mercy or fairness.
Update on Zaki v. University: Sent back to appear before University committee again
Nov. 18, 2021
As per the Justice Champagne reasons in the court win on Zaki v. University of Manitoba at the Manitoba Court of Queens Bench, Rafael Zaki has been sent back to appear before the University upper level committee for it to re-determine his matter on the basis of bias being found in the decision making at the University and on the basis that the University is subject to the Charter in protecting Rafael’s Charter rights.
Update on Zaki v. University: Manitoba Ruling
August 6, 2021
In a stunning Court decision, on August 6, 2021, the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench decided that the University of Manitoba was biased and neglected the Charter rights of Zaki when it expelled him last summer after students filed anonymous complaints against him because he shared his beliefs on social media. In a landmark decision, the Court determined that, from this time forward, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to Manitoba universities when they discipline students. This will help all students from being persecuted for their deeply held beliefs and opinions and encourage the University of Manitoba to act as the bastion of free speech that it should be.
Update on Zaki v. University: Zaki Expelled Again, By Same University Committee
June 06, 2022
Can a University Student ever apologize enough?
After Rafael Zaki won his court case at the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, the ruling saying that his expulsion had been biased and without consideration of his Charter rights, his matter was sent back to the same University committee that originally expelled him to determine if his expulsion was justified under the Charter.
This same committee expelled him yet again, finding that despite his repeated affirmations of regret and apology for his postings, he still was not adequately repentant. Even though he apologized for everything but the core of his beliefs, he was expelled anyway. Please help Rafael fight for his rights to freedom of expression and religion as he fights his second expulsion.