TURNING SUSPECTS INTO VICTIMS

It is encouraging to see that it is not only my opinion that the media is trying to soothe the ruffled feathers in the Canadian muslim community. I have had numerous emails asking me why our media is intent on undermining the war on terror. I don’t have an answer to that, I am sorry.

While I don’t think that most reporters are out there sympathizing with the enemy, there are a lot of stories coming forth which are doing little else but question our right to protect ourselves and to arrest those who wish to do harm to others.

There seems to be a dramatic surge happening in stories that are condemning the arrests of the group of 17, and even more stories telling us how there has been a horrible mistake made or how they are being so harshly treated.

Take for example the words of Tariq Haleem, the father of 30 year old Shareef Abdehaleem. “It never happened. Never happened.” He was referring to his son’s involvement in the p blow up targets in southern Ontario. He is indeed entitled to support his son, as would any of us, but he obviously does not know everything. He added “My son is a decent person. He was raised very well. He is a very sensitive, very shy person.” For his son’s sake, I hope that he is right.

Terry Milewski, a reporter, was interviewed on the CBC by Peter Mansbridge and asked what he saw in the courtroom. He used words of compassion and sympathy for the accused by stating “Well, Peter, this was a pretty sobering sight to see these accused in the dark, many of them very young, obviously frightened, lonely, scanning the crowd after three days in solitary, looking for a friendly face. It’s not a bed of roses in there.” I wish that I was making this stuff up because it is so good. Honestly. It turns out that being arrest is a horrible experience, even in Canada. It’s no bed of roses, folks. Notice the insertion of those cuddly words young, frightened, and lonely. Yes, in Canada, these men are to become the victims.

One of the suspects lawyers, Donald McLeod, complained that his clients were unable to prayer together as muslims. Apparently Mr. McLeod has either not considered the fact that the crown is unwilling to allow the suspects the opportunity to choreograph their testimonies, or perhaps he doesn’t find that an important concept. I would suggest that allowing any group of suspects alleged to have plotted anything time to sync their stories would be foolish whether they were atheists or religious.

Stating that the separation of these individuals is a breach of their rights is simply outrageous. One does not need to be in a group to pray. It may be preferred, but that is not the crown’s responsibility. The responsibility of the crown is to ensure that these suspect are unable to fabricate a story and are unable to pass along any sensitive information to those on the outside.

One defense lawyer, Gary Batasar, takes the award for the most outrageous comments. He stated that our prime minister expressing his happiness to see this group rounded up somehow prejudices this case. That is totally ridiculous. That would be tantamount to stating that once a community expressed relief at the capture of an alleged serial rapist that he is no longer able to have a fair trial. There is simply no evidence to support such a statement.

Mr. Batasar continued to play to the media by once again drawing a parallel between George Bush and Stephen Harper, albeit innocuously. He stated that the government was intent on creating an atmosphere of fear. “It appears to me that whether you’re in Ottawa or Toronto or Crawford, Tex., or Washington, D.C., what is wanting to be instilled in the public is fear.”said Mr. Batasar. Crawford, Texas is, of course, the location of President Bush’s ranch.

He went on to say that “In fact, the comments made by the prime minister himself with respect to his happiness that these persons had been arrested certainly is surprising and shocking.”

Now personally, if it were made known to me that some nut job wanted to hack off my head, I would also be elated that him and his co-conspirators were on ice. To use words such as ‘surprising’ and ‘shocking’ is just a wee bit overboard, but that is Mr. Batasar’s job as a defense attorney. He is already trying to form the opinion that the public will have of his clients. He is also trying to draw a picture of Guantanamo and of political prisoners being treated in violation of their basic human rights.

We also had time for some calls of racism. We all knew that the charge would be forthcoming, we simply knew not by whom or when it would come. Tarek Fatah, a member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, complained of racial profiling by the media. Come on, Tarek. While I can certainly sympathize with the plight of the relatives of the accused, what transpired with the horde of blood thirsty reporters this week had nothing to do with race. In fact, a religious belief itself has nothing to do with race. The complaint seemed to be that it was only women dressed in burkas and other muslim dress who were surrounded by the media. Could this be tantamount to persecution or might it simply be that these women were obviously the wives of someone inside the courthouse and were muslim just like the defendants?

Again, I must point out the lack of logic in calling everything and anything to do with any particular visible segment of our population as racism. Were I to be charged in a country where my dress or customs stood out, and those of my wife did also, there would no doubt be people looking at my wife were she to arrive at my hearings. She would be an obvious link to the goings on, and that is all that is happening at our courthouse. Racism indeed. These charges are completely unfounded and irresponsible.

I suppose that the rhetoric is just beginning. We will no doubt here from many in the community involved as to how the accused are simply victims of a draconian, (watch for that word to be used, it will be), scapegoat mentality and of an American style witch hunt. Stay tuned.