Ottawa outlaws Hizbullah; Canadian Arabs furious
Canada added Lebanon’s Hizbullah to its list of banned organizations Wednesday. Solicitor-General Wayne Easter announced that it would now be illicit to either fund or support Hizbullah, along with two other groups — Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Aum Shinrikyo of Japan.
According to The Globe and Mail, under the Criminal Code, the assets of any listed person or group may be seized and forfeited, and penalties for funding or supporting them include up to 10 years in prison.
Although Hizbullah's military arm was banned 13 months ago, its political wing was still allowed to operate in Canada until Wednesday.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham had previously opposed banning the political wing, saying it is an important party in the Lebanese parliament and provides social, educational and medical services in war-ravaged southern Lebanon.
Last week, however, he appeared on the verge of changing his mind after the Lebanese group leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah called for new suicide attacks. Nasrallah speaks for both parts of the organization, Graham said.
"In terms of what the social arm does, it still does works, it still does hospitals, it still does things, but it was clear from the leader's comments the other day that it still was not distinguishing itself from terrorist activity," Graham told reporters.
For their part, Canadian Arabs said the government should also outlaw fundraising for Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.
"Illegal Israeli settlements and destruction of Palestinian villages are terrorism against the Palestinian people," Mazen Chouaib, the executive director of the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, said Wednesday. The Jewish National Fund, B'nai Brith Canada and other groups that support the Israeli settlements should be subject to the same kind of restrictions on activities now faced by Hezbollah, he said.
According to Chouaib, the ban on Hizbullah will stigmatize Canadians of Arab and Muslim background and make them feel like "criminals or second-class citizens." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)