Listing of terrorist organizations must be put in perspective

Toronto – The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Solicitor General to proceed with extreme caution on the matter of adding to the Canadian list of terrorist organizations. In letters to Bill Graham and Wayne Easter, CAF urged the ministers to assess genuine and credible security concerns, rather than political motivations, before adding organizations to the list. CAF explained that it views Hezbollah as a legitimate Lebanese political party, in that it has representation in the country’s parliament and an extensive network of badly needed social service programs. CAF implored the ministers not to succumb to political pressure, and to use only the rule of law and substantiated evidence in determining the status of Hezbollah in Canada.

With respect to the recent addition of Hamas and Islamic Jehad to the list of terrorist organizations, CAF indicated that these two organizations were borne out of 35 years of violent occupation of Palestine. “The listing of these organizations does not recognize the reality of the occupation and the context within which the violence is taking place,” the letters said. “The Canadian government as such has censured one form of violence while remaining silent on another – hardly an even-handed approach.”

CAF also pointed out that the listings will severely curb legitimate fundraising for charitable and humanitarian causes, and might affect the remittances from Palestinian Canadians that many families in the impoverished West Bank and Gaza have come to depend on. “Provisions need to be made to avoid worsening the already appalling humanitarian situation in Palestine by the application of the terrorist label to these two organizations”, CAF stated.

In conclusion, CAF pointed to the hateful B’nai Brith advertisement in The Ottawa Citizen on November 29, 2002, depicting a Canadian “terrorist” with Islamic symbols in the background, as an indication of the agendas behind the campaign to list Hezbollah. “The Arab and Muslim communities have suffered enough stigmatization following the events of September 11 and we are fearful that the listing of Hezbollah will add to the marginalization of these communities,” the letter concluded.

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