ECMC Board Planning Calendar>>

> Press Releases
> Articles
> Newsletters
> Photo Gallery
> video/audio
Letter from ECMC to Prime Minister re: Conflict in Lebanon

July 24, 2006

Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

The Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, which represents nine faith groups and community organizations in Edmonton and serves the vast majority of Edmonton's 35,000 Muslims, expresses its concerns about our government's response to the current crises in Gaza and Lebanon. We are deeply disappointed that you have characterized Israel's deliberate and massive attacks on civilians and civil infrastructure in Lebanon as a "measured response" in tune with the comments made by the President of the United States. We are concerned about this obvious shift in our country's foreign policy for the following reasons:

1. Israel's targeting of the civilian areas and infrastructure goes far beyond the measures necessary to fight Hezbollah or to secure the release of the two captured soldiers. The overwhelming force against civilian targets amounts collective punishment of large segments of the civilian population and thus violates the Geneva Convention.

You will be aware that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, has warned that any contraventions of this nature could constitute crimes against humanity. Canada must not, either directly or indirectly, become a party to any such contraventions of the international law.

2. There have been at least eight known Canadian deaths in Lebanon and the lives of as many as 50,000 Canadians are currently at risk. We believe the first duty of any Canadian government is to ensure safety and security of all its citizens. As such, it is the duty of your government to hold Israel accountable for the deaths of those innocent Canadians, in addition to ensuring the safe return of several tens of thousands of Canadians desperate to get out of the war zone.

3. In recent days, a few world powers and notably the United States, have delayed responding to calls from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, and other world leaders for an immediate ceasefire and for active pursuit of a diplomatic solution. To our knowledge, such outright rejected of a call made by the chief of the United Nations is unprecedented in the sixty year history of this international body. This risk reinforces a notion among many of the weaker nations that the UN is rapidly becoming subservient to the world's only superpower and its closest allies, rather than being a guardian of the security and territorial integrity of all member nations.

We wish to submit to you that such a rise in perceptions with regard to the ineffectiveness of the UN would have profound consequences. At the very least, it could further escalate an arms race among many nations, particularly those which may feel vulnerable through the inability of the UN body to protect them from outside attacks. Further, it could also play nicely into the hands of some of the terrorist groups looking for new breeding grounds for recruits to their twisted causes.

For the above reasons, we earnestly appeal to you as the leader of our country that Canada must maintain strict neutrality in this long-standing dispute in the Middle East, so as to be able to play a constructive role at some point in the future. Any partisan remarks at the height of the crisis not only endanger many thousands of innocent lives but also compromise Canada's strategically established role as an honest broker in advancing international peace efforts.

Our community looks forward to your response.



Larry Shaben
Chair, ECMC

cc: Hon. Peter McKay, Minister of External Affairs

about us | portfolios | media zone | events | calendar | links

© Copyright MMXI. Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. All Rights Reserved.
Comments about the site? E-mail the webmaster.