Is it the end of Baaklini's irresponsible acts?
Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
Fax & Phone # (905) 272-9389
Web site http://www.clhrf.com
The CLHRF does not consider the letter of regret that Lebanon's Ambassador Mr. Raymond Baaklini has submitted today to the Honorable Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Bill Graham is enough, as far as the Canadian Lebanese Community is concerned. The letter did not address in any way the unacceptable threats and false accusations that Mr. Baaklini has uttered in his last two interviews (31/12/02 and 13/1/03) against our community members and organizations that supported the Canadian government's decision in putting Hizbollah on the terrorism list. Accordingly we are issuing again the CLHRF release of yesterday that addresses our serious concerns.
Spokesman for the CLHRF
January 15, 2003
For the second time in less than a week, we the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation, find ourselves responding to the hostile and ignorant remarks of the Lebanese Ambassador to Canada, Mr. Raymond Baaklini.
His Excellency has once again resorted to hiding behind Arab media in an effort to appease and cajole his superiors in Lebanon and Syria and hide his offensive remarks from the Canadian public and government. On this past Monday, January the 13th, Baaklini gave a divisive interview to the Al-Sharq Awsat, a Saudi newspaper published out of London.
In this interview, the Lebanese ambassador to Canada defended his recent racist statements in Canada and went further to assault a major sector of the Lebanese Canadian community with veiled threats and verbal intimidation.
In the interview, Baaklini refers to a certain segment of Lebanese-Canadians as Zionists, whose aims are to alienate groups such as Hizbollah and further their own personal agendas. To these accusations we say resoundingly that yes indeed, we support the Canadian government in eliminating ties with all terrorist groups including Hizbollah. We also support revealing the undemocratic and oppressive regime in Lebanon and ending the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Only then can basic human rights once again prevail in our ancestral Land, Lebanon.
As for the accusation of us being Zionists, this is an embarrassing lie. We support a just and fair peace in the Middle East between Israel and all neighbors, beginning with Lebanon. In Lebanon, and in the rest of the so called "Arabic World", those labeled Zionists, are subject to persecution, along with alienation and threats towards the accused family. By labeling Lebanese Canadians as Zionists, the Ambassador has threatened persecution towards a large number of Lebanese-Canadians who hold dual citizenship if they were to return to Lebanon. Further more, his remarks were intended to cause anxiety amongst Canadians who have family back in Lebanon, whom may potentially be targeted with harassment and persecution for their relatives in Canada who proclaim Human Rights and support the Canadian Governments decision to ban Hizbollah.
Our code of ethics, prevents us from uttering the ambassador's derogatory and offensive remarks that reveal deep grudges and a base language that the Lebanese have rarely seen and never expected from a Lebanese diplomat, who in effect is supposed to be a representative. These statements support a Lebanese proverb, The pot always reveal s its contents.
We the CLHRF, condemn these blasphemous statements, accusations and reject the veiled threats that target hundreds of thousands of Lebanese-Canadians. We also intend that our refusal to personally respond to these remarks be a sign that we will not begin debate with a puppet official, who does not, nor cannot form his own opinions and must resort to cheap, opportunistic tactics.
As a result of the Ambassadors recent inflammatory remarks published in Al-Sharq Awsat, that opposes the Canadian Charter of Rights and core values of the Canadian Government; we the CLHRF have raised this matter again to the appropriate authorities and channels of the Canadian government. We have requested again that Ambassador, Raymond Baaklini, be considered a person non in gratta and be expelled from Canada.
envoy attempts apology
Sorry not for what he said but for the reaction it elicited
Stewart Bell -National Post
Friday, January 17, 2003
After being called before Bill Graham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, over his "unacceptable" remarks about Canadians, the Lebanese ambassador said yesterday he regretted he had caused offence and controversy.
But Raymond Baaklini did not apologize or retract his comments concerning the "Jews or Zionists" that he said control "90%" of the media and dictate policy in Ottawa.
Mr. Graham nevertheless said he considered the matter closed.
"The ambassador and I had a full discussion. I explained to him that some of the language he used was not acceptable in Canada," Mr. Graham said. "I am confident that the ambassador fully understands our position."
Mr. Baaklini came under fire last week after a translation of an interview he gave to an Arabic-language Montreal newspaper appeared in the National Post.
In the interview, the ambassador alleged that Canada outlawed the terrorist group Hezbollah only because of a "Zionist party" that he claimed controlled the Canadian media. He also condemned Lebanese-Canadians who support the Hezbollah ban and alleged that Canadian police "always suspect every man with a beard and every woman with a veil."
Canadian Jewish and Lebanese organizations said yesterday they were not satisfied with the statement of regret, and some said they would continue to press the government to revoke his diplomatic credentials.
"This is not acceptable," said Elias Bejjani, spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation. "The letter did not address in any way the unacceptable threats and false accusations that Mr. Baaklini has uttered in his last two interviews against our community's members and organizations that supported the Canadian government decision in putting Hezbollah on the terrorism list."
Keith Landy, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, noted the ambassador had not retracted his "ugly remarks, which are so reflective of the endemic anti-Semitism in the official Arab world."
He added: "We trust that, in private, the Foreign Minister impressed upon the diplomat the totally unacceptable and un-Canadian nature of his comments and that, henceforth, the ambassador at least publicly will refrain from such reprehensible conduct."
Frank Dimant of B'nai Brith said: "The facts of the matter are that the senior diplomatic representative of Lebanon has attempted to import racist propaganda into this country and has employed veiled threats against the people of Canada.
"This is not a question of causing 'controversy,' as Baaklini puts it, as if his views represented one side of a legitimate debate. The Canadian Jewish community does not agree with the Foreign Minister that this matter is closed." Last week, the ambassador confirmed to the Post he had made the comments and said the newspaper's translation was accurate. "I wanted to say exactly that 90% of the mass media in Canada is controlled by Jews or Zionists," he said. "I am afraid that Canadians in the future will have to change their T-shirts in Lebanon and the Arab world. That means to be hated in the area."
Mr. Baaklini was promptly summoned to a meeting with John McNee, the Foreign Affairs assistant deputy minister for Africa and the Middle East, and told his comments were "unacceptable and without foundation."
Canadian diplomats in Beirut also raised the matter with the Lebanese government. But rather than apologizing, Mr. Baaklini repeated his comments to other Arabic newspapers and said Canadian officials were not concerned about his behaviour.
He also claimed to be the victim of newspapers "under the control of Zionist groups" and what he termed fanatical Christian immigrants from Lebanon, who he said were trying to tarnish his country's reputation.
On Wednesday, Mr. Graham said he was concerned that Mr. Baaklini did not seem to understand the seriousness of his actions, and summoned the ambassador to a second meeting, held yesterday at Foreign Affairs headquarters in Ottawa.
"Like Canada, Lebanon is a multicultural country of very diverse traditions that respects Judaism, as it does Islam and Christianity, as part of our culture," Mr. Baaklini said in a letter released by Canadian officials following the meeting. "It was not my intention to criticize the police in Canada because I am convinced that they respect the diversity of Canada's communities," he added. "I regret that my comments caused offence and that they created a controversy." The Canadian government put Hezbollah on its list of banned terrorist groups last month after the intelligence service found the hardline Islamic group was deeply involved in international terrorism. Lebanon, which hosts Hezbollah, was angered by the firstname.lastname@example.org© Copyright 2003 National Post
ambassador regrets disparaging Canada
But official still holds that media controlled by 'Zionist Party'
OTTAWA (CP) - Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham says he has accepted an apology from the Lebanese ambassador for controversial comments about Canada's decision to ban Hezbollah. But the Canadian Jewish Congress said Ambassador Raymond Baaklini didn't go far enough to withdraw his "ugly remarks." Baaklini met with Graham on Thursday and apologized for some of his comments to the the Montreal Arab-language newspaper Sada al-Machrek. He told the paper that Canada outlawed Hezbollah - a terrorist group based in Lebanon which also has a charitable arm - under pressure from a "Zionist party" that controls most of the Canadian media. Baaklini also said he had been told "Canadian police always suspect every man with a beard and every woman with a veil." And he suggested Canadians travelling in the Arab world shouldn't wear Canada T-shirts. Graham said that after meeting with Baaklini, he was "confident that the ambassador fully understands our position" and the matter is now closed. "The ambassador and I had a full discussion," Graham said in a news release. "I explained to him that some of the language he used was not acceptable in Canada. He said that he regretted that his comments had caused offence and controversy and has written to me to that effect." In a letter to Graham, Baaklini apologized for criticizing Canadian police and said Lebanon respects Judaism. But he did not withdraw his comment about Zionist influence. It was not clear if he addressed that issue in his meeting with Graham. The Canadian Jewish Congress jumped on the omission.
"Ambassador Baaklini has once again refused to retract his ugly remarks, which are so reflective of the endemic anti-Semitism in the official Arab world," said congress president Keith Landy.
"We trust that in private, the foreign minister impressed upon the Lebanese representative the totally unacceptable and un-Canadian nature of his comments and that henceforth the ambassador at least publicly will refrain from such reprehensible conduct." Baaklini could not be reached for comment and Graham's office did not return calls on the matter.
envoy 'regrets' comments .Graham accepts statement, even though Baaklini didn't retract
'unacceptable' anti-Zionist remark
Mike Trickey -The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, January 17, 2003
Lebanon's ambassador did not apologize for his remarks about a "Zionist party" that controls Canada's media and pressured the government into banning Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, but Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham says he considers the matter closed, following a meeting yesterday. After being told by Graham that his language was unacceptable, Raymond Baaklini said he regretted the offence his comments caused, but gave no indication of retracting them. "Like Canada, Lebanon is a multicultural country of very diverse traditions that respects Judaism, as it does Islam and Christianity, as part of our culture," Baaklini wrote to Graham in a letter "confirming" what he had told him in person earlier yesterday.
"It was not my intention to criticize the police in Canada because I am convinced they respect the diversity of Canada's communities. "I regret that my comments caused offence and that they created a controversy."
Graham says he told Baaklini that "some of the language he used was not acceptable in Canada" and that he is "confident" the ambassador "fully understands" our position.
Baaklini was quoted in the New Year's Eve edition of the Montreal-based Arabic paper Sada al Machric as saying "Canadian police always suspect every man with a beard and every woman with a veil." He also said the government had banned the Lebanese-based Shia Muslim organization Hezbollah under pressure from a "Zionist party" that "controls 90 per cent of the Canadian media" and "takes instructions and help from many Zionist organizations either in Canada or abroad."
Another of his remarks was interpreted by some as a threat against Canadians wearing T-shirts with the Maple Leaf symbol in the Middle East, but others said that could also have been translated as meaning Canadians would become ashamed to wear the Maple Leaf if their government continued to take positions that were seen to be anti-Islamic.
Baaklini told the National Post last week that he might have chosen different words had he been addressing an English audience, but then repeated his allegations. "I wanted to say exactly that 90 per cent of the mass media in Canada is controlled by Jews or Zionists, and those Jews or Zionists, they are also supported by other organizations in the (United) States."
Graham immediately labelled the comments unacceptable and summoned Baaklini to meet with senior department officials to hear that message. Canada also formally informed the Lebanese government of its concern about the ambassador's language.
Jewish groups were outraged that Graham now considers the matter closed, arguing that Baaklini should be expelled for his comments.
"It is unconscionable that Bill Graham caved in," said Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith. "It's an insult to Canadian dignity. The ambassador, who threatens Canadians, has no place in this country.
''There's no place for bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism and for Canada to tolerate that is simply unconscionable."
Dimant said his organization will pursue "all avenues" to have Baaklini removed and vowed the matter would be raised when Parliament resumes sitting later this month. Diplomatic experts say expulsion of an ambassador is an extreme step rarely taken in peacetime because of the bilateral complications it creates.
In saying he considers the matter closed, Graham emphasized Canada's close ties with Lebanon.
"Canada and Lebanon have a close and friendly relationship that embraces political, cultural, economic and people-to-people ties. We work together to address any and all problems promptly and constructively." © Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen