Recent claims in the Canadian press that Hezbollah are actively plotting operations in Canada has created a media firestorm and fuelled targeted visits in Arab and Muslim communities in Quebec by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
The report about Hezbollah, a political party with an armed wing based in Lebanon that formed as an armed resistance to Israel's military occupation of southern Lebanon in the 1980s, was spurred by a U.S.-based ABC news network report that was widely cited in the Canadian press.
"Hezbollah has been consistent in only engaging militarily with Israel inside Lebanon as either an occupation force or invading force, so these recent media reports are really incredible," explains Khaled Mouammar, president of the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF). While Canada and the U.S. regard Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, it is widely regarded as a legitimate resistance movement in most of the Arab and Muslim worlds. "Recent media articles will only provide additional ammunition for CSIS to intimidate and harass the Lebanese and Arab community." says Mouammar.
Arab and Muslim associations in Canada have criticized the reports as sensational, arguing they reference unspecified information from anonymous intelligence agents.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada (CAIR) has been receiving distressed calls from Lebanese Canadians who have been visited by CSIS.
"This past week numerous calls have come in from members of the Lebanese community, people
who were contacted at their workplaces, at their homes in a very rude fashion in response to the recent media reports on Hezbollah," explains Sameer Zuberi from CAIR. "Effectively these media articles provide further justification for intelligence services to harass Lebanese and Shiite Muslims in Canada." (MORE)