Articles

Florence Carbray

Florence, my next door neighbour of 30 years, is the first person who welcomed me to this country, got me involved with the community association of which she was president at the time, hired my teenage daughter to baby side her boys … and so much more ..

During that long stretch of time .. we have had discussions, disagreed on so many current issues, about approaches to events, about public policies ..  but never on anything personal, and always with respect for each other’s point of view … we are both Taurus .. so you can imagine the kind of heated arguments that ensue .. her husband would just shake his head …

I decided today to tape an interview with her because she is running as a candidate for Kitchener Ward 4, and I wanted to bring out the aspect that some people may not know about her, about her humble, quiet yet efficient and sincere way of getting things done, about how for her 38 years of living here, she was been a go-getter of a very unique style … she listens, she brings people together, she respects everyone and she facilitates and moderates until both sides are satisfied .. an amazing lady!

snow clearing

a hot topic ? oh yes …

For 30 years I have been puzzling about how the devious establishment managed to pass a by-law that is so incredibly unfair to homeowners .. and worse yet .. that some people have been silent about that !!!

I decided in 2018 that I am going to do something about this … so .. in January I registered to make a presentation to Kitchener city council’s budget meeting, and followed it with another in June of the same year when, after wasting six months of staff paid time to  “studying” and “report” …they came up with an even more ridiculous suggestion of spending $750,000 on a “pilot project”, a hefty sum that could have been used as seed money for a one time purchase of the equipment to be immediately put to use for the upcoming winter .. so before I open the discussion, let me share the two presentation …

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January 15 2018

Mr Mayor, City of Kitchener Councillors, ladies and gentleman,

Good evening,

In this meeting when council discusses budgets, projects and upkeep of the city – all of them important and commendable endeavours and efforts we are very appreciative and grateful for –

Sadly, in our zeal to save money, the city has neglected to address a grievous wrong that should never have existed in the first place.

I am talking of the arbitrary sentence of hard labour (with no parole in sight) imposed upon homeowners . . . under threat of severe penalties . . . to shovel, scrape packed snow or ice on city owned sidewalks and the huge mounts resulting from what the plows dump at the entrance of our driveways … all in harsh, severe freezing weather conditions ..

This cannot be called a normal civic duty by any standard .. such an injustice and wrong should not be allowed to stand on any excuse, including money, especially in a large, rich city such as Kitchener.

This bylaw may have been necessary some time in the past, but with the wide tax base we have today, and especially with the newer and much cheaper technology available for sidewalk snow removal, there is no excuse for allowing a grievous wrong to continue. Modern snow removal machines do the job easily and at unbelievably high speeds. In exactly ten minutes one of those machines can finish the sidewalk going all around an average-sized crescent. That is one man, on one machine, sparing dozens of homeowners a lot of trouble, discomfort, pain, inconvenience, and even illness, injury or worse yet, a heart attack.

The idea of telling a homeowner if they can’t do it themselves they’re on their own and have to work out an alternative, or pay others to have it done, or buy a machine to do it, or any of that, is just more injustice and an unfair burden on their shoulders and should be crossed out of any solution.

The city and council very kindly work hard to afford better programs, more facilities and more activities especially for seniors, so why not add one more crucial service – that is to say – have the professionals do the job as it should be done?

Those who go out to do this arduous work on behalf of the city, risk life & limb or severe injuries for us every time they are out there . . . even though they did not voluntarily sign up for it . . . a forced, unpaid labour imposed indiscriminately upon the shoulders of innocent homeowners without their consent, regardless of their own bodies’ abilities – the old and young, the frail and able-bodied, the sick and well alike.

The premise is deeply flawed from its roots. It is a blatant travesty, and though we
worry about the pedestrian’s right to walk on cleared sidewalks, that is not a homeowners problem, and should never have been.

Human beings and justice should be primary elements of the discussions that go on among this venerable council that represents the people of this city. Until this matter is brought to a satisfactory conclusion we cannot call ourselves a civilized community by any other measure. We may have very high tech companies locating in our city, we may have the truly wonderful LRT, we can have all other kinds of perks and attractions, but we can never call ourselves civilized with that kind of travesty going on every winter.

We are certainly grateful and thankful to the mayor, council, and city staff for making our city well worth being proud of, but sadly that is marred by the inhumanity of an archaic unjust bylaw which has no place in such a city. Canadian winters dictate that this be considered a high priority on city budget

I am sure that once you realise the extent of wrong involved, you will take it upon yourselves to find the best solutions possible.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and though there is so much more that can be said on this topic, I am limited to 5 minutes, so please allow me to answer any questions now or later

Gehan Sabry

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June 25 2018

Mr Mayor, City of Kitchener Councillors, ladies and gentleman,

Good evening,

In my previous presentation to the budget committee in January of this year, I expressed what many feel about the unfortunate and unfair situation that has historically been imposed on homeowners to clear sidewalks that are owned by the city and should therefore be the city’s responsibility.

I am talking about the arbitrary sentence of forced, unpaid hard labour (with no parole in sight) imposed indiscriminately on innocent homeowners – without their consent regardless of their abilities (physical or financial) – old or young, frail or fit, sick or well alike.

The premise is deeply flawed from its roots, and until this blatant travesty is resolved without further delay, we cannot call ourselves a civilized community by any measure

The Canadian reality is that it snows in winter, and continuing to drag the issue is outrageous . . . pilot projects or months of preparing staff reports at this point should be viewed as redundant and a further waste of resources.

At university (half a century ago) one of my professor said and I quote “the best way to kill any project or idea is to give it to a committee” and how true this has been proven to be !!
I am sure that once you realise the extent of wrong involved, you will take it upon yourselves to find the best solutions possible. The city always manages to find funds when it has to or wants to . . . a case in point is the most recent example of how the city adjusted to the new provincial minimum wage.

Therefore objections based on cost, or, even mentioning an increase in taxes is adding insult to injury. So is imposing fines !

There are other cities in Canada that clear snow for the community as part of municipal operations expenses covered by EXISTING taxes. The city already clears sidewalks in the city centres and at parks. Wouldn’t take much more to keep pushing the sidewalk plows and clear everyone’s sidewalk especially with the newer and much cheaper technology available . . . in exactly 10 minutes one of those machines can finish the sidewalk of an average sized crescent – that is one man, on one machine, sparing DOZENS of homeowners a lot of discomfort, pain, inconvenience, even illness, injury or worse yet .. a heart attack . . . that is to say .. Have the professionals do the job as it should be done BY THOSE WHO SHOULD BE DOING IT!

Snow removal on residential sidewalks is the responsibility of our city, no ifs or buts about it!

So although we worry about pedestrians and strollers rights to access cleared sidewalks, that is NOT a homeowner’s problem, and should never have been.

Human beings and justice should be primary elements of the discussions that go on among this venerable council who represent the people, all the people

Thank you for giving me this opportunity and I look forward to answering any of your questions

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the following are varying points of view and exchanges about the issue .. I will include the names where the dialogue was public, but will mask the names when the conversation was private

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Too slow on snow
Opinion Jul 19, 2018 Waterloo Region Record

Kitchener backs away from pricey snow clearing trial — June 27

Given that having walkways free of snow and ice (and obstructions in the other three seasons) is a human right, it stands to reason that the 24-hour time frame for clearing is not reasonable or acceptable. In order to be in any way meaningful, walkways must be cleared of snow and ice in a timely manner and maintained as such. When snowing, a pass at least every hour on every walkway would ensure safe conditions. The city has unlimited resources, and should use them to obtain the necessary staff and equipment to achieve this goal. A dollar value cannot be placed on the health and safety of the population. The notion that a 24-hour time frame for clearing is anywhere near effective is a mere token, indicating surrender to the vocal masses and is abdicating responsibility for the well-being of the population.

Ken Sowa
Kitchener

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Gehan AF D Sabry
for the past 30 years I have been puzzling over how and when the local authorities managed to con home owners into clearing the sidewalks for them in addition to what the city plows dump on the driveway .. while there is a simple gadget that attaches to the plow to clear that away … this is Canada and in winter it snows, and as the city is obligated to clear the roads, it is MORE obligated to clear its sidewalks for its pedestrians … instead I found that they had pitted pedestrians against homeowners … and the cheek of it .. they further imposed a penalty … lifetime sentence of free labour with no parole in sight !!!….. disgraceful doesn’t even begin to describe it … especially that with the advancement of technology, clearing an average crescent wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes .. one piece of equipment, one person !!! does that answer your question? oh .. and of course now they are scaring people by threatening to raise property taxes .. when in fact they should have been doing the work themselves a long time ago !!!

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2018 October 6 fb exchange re bylaw w Gregory Heenan

Gregory A. Heenan
Question for ALL CANDIDATES what will you do to get bylaw enforcement out of the office and on the streets It is not my job to call their attention to violators. Would you encourage / propose a enforcement person for EACH of the10 wards or one for every two (5)

Gehan AF D Sabry
Gregory .. I am not a candidate …but I sincerely hope you are not referring to snow clearing …because that is one by-law that violates every homeowners human right … and the fight over it is far from over!!

Alan Balažic
Can you elaborate Gehan? I’m not clear about what right you’re speaking of?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Alan Balažic – for the past 30 years I have been puzzling over how and when the local authorities managed to con home owners into clearing the city owned sidewalks for them in addition to what the city plows dump on the driveway .. while there is a simple gadget that attaches to the plow to clear that away … this is Canada and in winter it snows, and as the city is obligated to clear the roads, it is MORE obligated to clear its sidewalks for its pedestrians … instead I found that they had pitted pedestrians against homeowners … and the cheek of it .. they further imposed a penalty … lifetime sentence of free labour with no parole in sight !!!….. disgraceful doesn’t even begin to describe it … especially that with the advancement of technology, clearing an average crescent wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes .. one piece of equipment, one person !!! does that answer your question? oh .. and of course now they are scaring people by threatening to raise property taxes .. when in fact they should have been doing the work themselves a long time ago !!!

Gregory A Heenan
Gehan AF D Sabry – I NEVER said a flake about snow ….. general bylaws and property standards that is why I capitalized the direction of the question to CANDIDATES but it seems that not Christine Michaud nor Wes nor Florence nor either of the other CANDIDATES have it on their agendas

Aurie Botosan
There is SO much I could enlighten some on this issue as a private snow removal contractorbut as a Canadian who has endured many cold, snowy and dreary winters it’s what we do .. shovel our fair share !!! And then cozy up to a fire and watch our beloved Leafs lose on a Saturday night . Just think of the associated costs facilitating your suggestions $$

Gehan AF D Sabry
Aurie, the city can subcontract the work to you and other private snow removal contractors … I am not against private contractors, in fact at my work, we do have that agreement in place .. there is still plenty of work … but to impose it upon homeowners is a travesty .. unforgivable when it also comes with a fine if not done!!! The cost rhetoric they cook up is also unacceptable . the city has an obligation that it has been shirking for too long …

Aurie Botosan
Does the snow contractor at your place of work shovel the snow between your parked cars ?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Aurie Botosan we do not park overnight .. and if I am working late I go outside and move my car …

Aurie Botosan
Gehan AF D Sabry point I’m making is expectations of a service have to meet the allotted budget. Enjoy your Thanksgiving

Gregory A. Heenan
Aurie Botosan Gehan AF D Sabry HOW DID THIS BECOME A SNOW ISSUE NOT THE ORIGINAL point ….. looks like we need to get the school board trustees to approach a literacy concern I am now getting or maybe Doug Ford has an opinion on THAT too

Gehan AF D Sabry
Gregory .. I was responding to Alan Balažic who asked me to elaborate on my comment to you re by-laws .. there is absolutely no need for you to be dictatorial and muzzle the conversation just because you had something different in mind .. this site is about elections .. and elections revolve around CITIZENS not candidates .. we select .. we challenge .. and we decide .. that is democracy
Gregory A Heenan .. your post was about by-laws!!!!!! who now needs literacy .. if you wanted it to be specific you should have formed your sentence accordingly !!!!!

Gehan AF D Sabry
snow clearing is a
CITY OBLIGATION
.. not an excuse to raise taxes

Jamie Diebolt
If the City was responsible to plough all sidewalks they would have to increase staff and increase spending for more machinery/maintenance to do the work or hire contractors. Where do you think the money to do this would come from? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out

Gehan AF D Sabry
Jamie, the equipment will be a one time purchase that would probably have been covered by their ridiculous and thankfully withdrawn “study and pilot project” of 750,000 … and if they operated on an efficient budget like all other companies have to do .. instead of having to rely / fall back on the public trough, it would be extremely easy to do … without scaring people into thinking that the only way is to raise taxes and continue to commit a travesty against homeowners …

Alex Lobakov
Jamie Diebolt – I used to live in King City and the city was responsible for plowing sidewalks. And guess what?
Property tax rate was LOWER than they charge in Kitchener. What gives?

Chris Feeney
How do you really feel though…

Gehan AF D Sabry
Chris, about what?

Carol Daniels
You could move to a neighborhood with no sidewalks… Problem solved

Gehan AF D Sabry
Carol Daniels .. what is wrong is wrong … I should not have to shovel snow or mow a lawn that the city claims to own .. and therefore I also should not have to move myself just because you say so!! I pay my property taxes and deserve to be served as in all civilized societies where human rights are respected … I am not a tool of free labour to be pushed around and be threatened by penalties… and it is not a ‘problem’ it is a travesty being committed against homeowners ..

Carol Daniels
Wow. So angry! I said “could” which is in the passive voice. It was a idea, not a command.

Gehan AF D Sabry
you might want to consider how our rights are being abused as homeowners .. and when they get away with one thing they will spread to more .. so careful what you wish for

Carol Daniels
Gehan AF D Sabry – and what did I wish for?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Carol Daniels – you wished me gone to solve my problem .. which to me is an attitude that lacks compassion and trivializes my what you call “problem”

Carol Daniels
Gehan AF D Sabry – I didn’t mean to wish you away. I apologize if I hurt your feelings. You are correct that there are ways to keep the plowed stuff off the driveways off the sidewalk. I find it’s just too easy for people and agencies not to care. I’m just surprised that neighborhoods with no sidewalks aren’t more prevalent. As to th Boulevards, I’m sure that’s done so that certain services can be attended to without homeowners giving workers issues about trespassing, etc. I don’t think that can be helped

Gehan AF D Sabry
no problem .. Carol … I have made several presentations to the current council, and that is why I hope to counter the divisiveness and the pitting pedestrians against home owners and also to prove that a one time purchase of equipment would be more fiscally responsible instead of the six months salaries and staff time that culminated in a “report” suggesting a pilot project that would have cost $750,000 which I said should be used against the purchase of the equipment .. obviously private contractors think they will lose out .. when in fact this is an opportunity for them to step in and do the job .. even more efficiently! New technology indicates that an average crescent would take 10 minutes to clear .. one man one piece of equipment … in Sweden for example they realized that pedestrians are even more of a priority than the roads so they start by clearing them first .. without a single thought of using homeowners as slaves ..

Sara Lane
I like your point, im just not sure it’s a battle we can win. I don’t mind to shovel the sidewalk Infront of my house. I told myself long ago that if I was ever lucky enough to own my own home I’d remember that when I had to cut my lawn or shovel my driveway. Puts it in perspective when I don’t feel like doing it

Agata Majerski
If nobody says anything then there is no “battle” and the city wins every time. I have no problems clearing the sidewalks, but I always think of those injured and elderly that pay taxes and still have to do it.
If the city owns the sidewalk, then the city should clear it

Sara Lane
Yep but that point also begs the question are they going to cut the boulevard in front of your place too? Because that’ll be their argument that if they do snow because it’s their property than someone will want them to do the grass infront of houses as well

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sara Lane, whatever their argument, the slavery and abuse of homeowner’s time and efforts has got to stop and at no additional cost to homeowners because it was a travesty to begin with .. that point was been clearly explained to them .. I actually even accused them of being cheeky for still talking about by-law enforcement and increasing fines on something that violates my human right as a homeowner and should never happen in a society that calls itself civilized

Agata Majerski
Sara Lane well, the cut the garbage pick up to every two weeks now and limit on number of of bags. I don’t see cut on taxes, just on the service. Use the savings to do the sidewalks…

Sara Lane
Sara and 65 others joined Doon South Community Group within the last two weeks. Give them a warm welcome into your community!
I get the every two weeks. It’s to push the green boxes into use. Well, that’s part of it. It was implemented but not received well. And we need to start doing more for the garbage issue as a whole

Gehan AF D Sabry
Agata Majerski – I like your point about using the savings .. and it even prompts me to say … learn to do things more efficiently … without always depending on dipping into the public purse for more taxes

Carol Daniels
Is there a budget item with the city to clear residential sidewalks?

Gehan AF D Sabry
yes Carol, they are half way to acknowledging their responsibility but keep scaring people about property taxes .. and although many people have even been willing to pay more … my position is that it is long overdue that they step up and correct their slavery and abuse of homeowners and that they are very crafty at finding funds when they want to .. they had already wasted six months of staff salaries to come up with a report that suggested they run a pilot project at a cost of $750,000 to which I replied that that was a redundant study and a waste of money and that the 750,000 should go towards a one time purchase of equipment and to stop dragging the issue ..

Warren Schnurr
The equipment may cost $750K but you also need to pay people to operate that equipment, it’s not as cut and dry as you think. Also, the norm for municipalites all over North America is that homeowners shovel the sidewalks and mow the grass on the municipal-owned boulevard. Sidewalk plowing is offered in some places but it is not in the majority of cities. It’s not slavery, it’s a normal part of living in an urban area in society

Sara Lane
I was cringing at the slavery term too. If I wrote that in some other groups I’d be lamb basted. I’m not ok with that term for this…

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sara Lane – but that is exactly what it is and that is what I said to city council .. it is public record .. why do you cringe when someone states the truth … if you are not clear how it is slavery .. I am more than happy to elaborate …

Sara Lane
Ugh nope. It’s an opinion

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sara Lane – I am surprised that the term offends you but the action it describes doesn’t

Sara Lane
You’re going to turn a lot of folks off with your argument using it. You go though, if you can change things all the power to you. If you need any signatures etc I would add mine

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sara Lane – thank you Sara I truly appreciate this and I just might need the signatures ..

Gehan AF D Sabry
I beg to differ Warren .. and btw it is not across the board many cities have realized how uncivilized it was to treat homeowners as free labour and have resumed their responsibility, and Warren, when something is wrong it is wrong … just because it has been allowed to continue in the past is no reason for it not to be remedied … as I explained earlier …new technology indicates that an average crescent would take 10 minutes to clear .. one man one piece of equipment … and again as I said …in Sweden for example they realized that pedestrians are even more of a priority than the roads so they start by clearing them first .. without a single thought of using homeowners as slaves ..

Warren Schnurr
I don’t agree that is wrong, it’s fiscally prudent. There are many concerns that need to be addressed before the city goes and decides to just plow all the sidewalks…
1) There will be a substantial cost each year for the city to plow all the sidewalks. Do we, as taxpayers and voters want the city to prioritize sidewalk plowing over fixing roads and utilities or funding libraries and community centres?
2) What happens when the city budgets a certain amount for snow removal and the budget gets blown if we have a bad winter? Where does the money come from to cover the overrun?
3) If the city plows damage anyones property while plowing how does the city handle that? Who pays? How does the city insure against that and prevent lawsuits?
We democratically elect the people who make the decisions to plow the sidewalks or not to plow the sidewalks, they’re not our ‘masters’ they’re our representatives. If sidewalk plowing is such an issue we would have candidates running on that platform for the election this month. To date I haven’t even seen this register on the political radar.
People buy homes in this area knowing what their responsibilities are in terms of snow removal etc., they are not forced into buying that home and if they don’t want to shovel snow don’t buy a home here

Cory Janzen
Agree Warren Schnurr – there are far greater issues than this in our city…if It bothers you so much hire a neighbour’s kid to clear your driveway – creates jobs, keeps them off Fortnite for a while, and will be WAY cheaper than paying the City to manage it

Gehan AF D Sabry
Cory Janzen – your remark reflects total inconsideration for the free labour that is imposed on homeowners, the jobs should be created by the city … or else I will send my bills for all the hours I have to spend clearing their sidewalk in the winter and mowing their portion of the front lawn in the summer .. it isn’t about what is cheaper .. it is about what is civilized !!!!

Gehan AF D Sabry
Warren Schnurr – let’s take your points one by one:
1) There will be a substantial cost each year for the city to plow all the sidewalks. Do we, as taxpayers and voters want the city to prioritize sidewalk plowing over fixing roads and utilities or funding libraries and community centres?
* the city tax base has exponentially multiplied over the years so has technological advancement such that it is now very time and cost efficient .. with responsible budgeting it could and should assume its responsibility of minding its own properties .. such as the sidewalks and the gadget that attaches to the plows to clear what it dumps on my private driveway!!

2) What happens when the city budgets a certain amount for snow removal and the budget gets blown if we have a bad winter? Where does the money come from to cover the overrun?
* ask them how they managed to come up with a million dollars to cover the minimum wage increase that the province imposed this year

3) If the city plows damage anyone’s property while plowing how does the city handle that? Who pays? How does the city insure against that and prevent lawsuits?
* what do you suggest I should do if my husband dies of a heart attack while he has to do the free slave work on behalf of the city?

We democratically elect the people who make the decisions to plow the sidewalks or not to plow the sidewalks, they’re not our ‘masters’ they’re our representatives. If sidewalk plowing is such an issue we would have candidates running on that platform for the election this month. To date I haven’t even seen this register on the political radar.
* in a democracy WE THE PEOPLE tell the candidates what to run on .. HELLO !!

People buy homes in this area knowing what their responsibilities are in terms of snow removal etc., they are not forced into buying that home and if they don’t want to shovel snow don’t buy a home here
* it really is beyond your jurisdiction to tell me where to buy a home .. and .. it is well within my right to demand a resolve to this most uncivilized by-law!!!

Ruby Weber
You are so right, but how can we change it.

Gehan AF D Sabry
thank you Ruby, I have made several presentations to the current council, and that is why I hope to counter the divisiveness and the pitting pedestrians against home owners and also to prove that a one time purchase of equipment would be more fiscally responsible instead of the six months salaries and staff time that culminated in a “report” suggesting a pilot project that would have cost $750,000 which I said should be used against the purchase of the equipment .. obviously private contractors think they will lose out .. when in fact this is an opportunity for them to step in and do the job .. obviously more efficiently! New technology indicates that an average crescent would take 10 minutes to clear .. one man one piece of equipment …

Sam Meilach
And if you don’t clear the sidewalk they’ll fine you

Gregory A Heenan
if implemented (I think it should) Taxes will be immediately increased and then the screaming will be loud

Gehan AF D Sabry
Gregory, that was exactly what I objected to in my presentation to city council earlier this year … that it is bad enough that they had gotten away with taking advantage of homeowners for so long and should neither increase taxes or dare to mention fines any more!!!

Gregory A. Heenan
and HOW is that funded ? No transfer funding from province or region. Must be paid for and not everyone HAS A SIDEWALK some are without drive so plugged drive is not a worry.

Gehan AF D Sabry
Gregory A Heenan – when the province implemented the increase in minimum wage .. I asked … how is the city managing that .. the reply .. oh we managed!!!

June Connors
Perhaps if developers were not given “corporate welfare” (constant waiving of development fees owed to city/regional coffers)these savings could be used to benefit residents by clearing city sidewalks and keeping tax increases reasonable

Mike Franck
If developers aren’t given incentives (Corporate Welfare), they will simply go where incentives are offered; they will pay ongoing taxes, and hire people to operate their business’ (some of whom will be happy for new job opportunities & being able to afford a sidewalk to shovel). Just sayin’

June Connors
Mike Franck – respect your opinion but disagree and say let them go…just sayin

Gehan AF D Sabry
Mike Franck – is that all you can think of … money !!!! never mind the uncivilized bylaw that has been encroaching on every home owner’s human right to a normal life without having to slave for the city to do its sidewalk clearing for it!!!

Mike Franck
Gehan AF D Sabry – it is really kind of funny (read sad) for you to attack my observation so personally; if you don’t have a source of income, you’re unlikely to have a sidewalk to worry about shoveling. Besides, are you not complaining about having to pay for the cost to have someone else shovel your sidewalk? That kind of equates to thinking about money – n’est pas?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Mike Franck .. non pas du tout!!! I attack the idea and the line of thinking that you have put forward … where it is all about money … I am presenting an instance of a blatant human rights violation, and your line of thought only went to breaking it down to dollars and cents and developers ..

June Connors
Unless something has changed last time I checked the City owns both sidewalks and boulevards

Gehan AF D Sabry
yes thank you June!!!

June Connors
Gehan AF D Sabry.- I try to stick with the facts Gehan. Truth is the city has us clearing their sidewalks and maintaining their boulevards. If we do not do this they fine us. Although compliant I don’t call this “freedom.” Perhaps, someday this will change but not holding my breath waiting. Happy thanksgiving to you and yours

Gehan AF D Sabry
happy thanksgiving to you too June … it is nice to talk to someone who exchanges with civility!!!

Gregory A. Heenan
You MUST be trying to run for office but I find no mention of you at any level … odd usually individuals with such strong feelings as to THINK it is a ‘BLATANT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION” would be the take action type of person … our MP is just that tried every way to get her son’s service dog allowed in school and then ran to try to change from within …. the test program is on so let’s see how that shakes out … heck we may all have to take garbage to the dump to get the money to clear some walks or maybe like some states it is a user fee base where if not paid your fire fee they will sit and watch your hones burn as they did in Tennessee

Gehan AF D Sabry
I would not even consider running … I am an activist I operate from an independent place … but activist I am … and I have already made two presentation to the current council and spoken to many about it .. this is not going away … you side track in your comments .. and you seem to be submissive to what “they” will decide … without realizing that residents need to be LISTENED TO and responded to .. not be pushed about by a handful of people .. remember the definition of democracy ..???

Gregory A Heenan
Mike Franck – I guess people need to be educated that we are given or allowed to live in a free system but free means “at a cost” in an example in the U S healthcare comes with a cost but to a high percentage …… ah never mind Gehan AF D Sabry may …..oh yeah she is an ACTIVIST not a politician

Gehan AF D Sabry
so Gregory A Heenan and Mike Franck .. you think USA is a model to follow !!! God help us!!! here I am talking about the rights of homeowners as citizens who pay their taxes – where an archaic by-law has been upheld by using divisive methods of pitting homeowners (who are also pedestrians) against pedestrians … just so that the city can shirk its responsibility of clearing ITS OWN sidewalks … talking about human rights of citizens in a supposedly civilized society .. yet you are too concerned about cost … so again God help us!!!

Kitchener ward 4 election 2018

Gehan AF D Sabry – I put the question to the 2018 candidates for Kitchener Ward 4:
Florence Carbray Christine Michaud Wes Hill Julie Batista Goncalves Geary Upneet Sasha Sidhu ?

Wes Hill
Hi Gehan AF D Sabry! That is one big topic! — and definitely one people can get seriously passionate about. Could you narrow it down a bit? What is your biggest concern about snow clearing in the city?

Gehan AF D Sabry
thank you Wes for asking … and yes it has been a great concern and a topic very much discussed .. I have a long and a short version for the reply .. and I did not want to influence your response … would you give me your thoughts first .. I will be happy to debate you on it

Christine Michaud
Hello Gehan. This is a hot topic specifically amongst seniors and those with physical disabilities. I don’t believe this issue is going to go away and I expect it will be discussed at council again. As a starting point I would like to see what the tax payer would have to absorb for different options then go from there

Gehan AF D Sabry
thank you Christine for your reply

Christine Michaud
Gehan AF D Sabry – my pleasure

Florence Carbray
This is a passionate issue! Thanks for the question. People who want to get around our city should be able to do so independently, safely and with dignity. It shouldn’t matter if they are walking, cycling, pushing strollers, or using a wheelchair, Getting to where you are going (to transit, work, school, and stores, anywhere) should not be a challenge. The biggest accessibility and mobility issue for citizens in Kitchener is during the winter months when not all sidewalks are kept clear of snow and ice, and accessible. The City Bylaw (Chapter 687) Article 1 DUTY OF OWNER indicates that every owner or occupant of a building … shall clear away and remove the snow and ice from sidewalks … within 24 hours. These sidewalks are city sidewalks, and not always cleared properly by homeowners. Bylaw enforcement is based on citizen complaints; that means a neighbour has to complain about a neighbour who does not clear the ice and snow off the sidewalks to get it taken care of. There are some who believe that the City should be responsible for clearing snow and ice from all city sidewalks. The issue of snow clearing city sidewalks will be on the agenda for the new Council, and if elected as Councillor, I will listen to residents, and be the voice of Ward 4

Gehan AF D Sabry
thank you Florence for your reply .. and as I have been saying .. this issue is focal for me .. and will not go away … many people support my stand on it .. it is public knowledge that I made two presentations to the current council and will continue to do what it takes until it is resolved

Mike Steinborn: Here’s an FYI from the City of Kitchener website. I did not know about this!
Neighbourhood-shared snow blower program
Get money to put towards a new snow blower for your neighbourhood. The city has grant funding for up to 10 neighbhourhood snow blowers. Each snow blower is to be shared by residents living in the same neighbourhood to keep their sidewalks, driveways and walkways clear. Interested Kitchener residents can apply online to receive up to $500 towards the purchase of a new snow blower.
The Neighbourhood Shared Snow Blower program is a neighbourhood led effort. We’ll provide you with a grant to help fund the purchase of a shared snowblower. The resident group is responsible for taking full ownership of the snow blower. This includes ensuring shared and equal access among the group, safe storage, operation, ongoing maintenance and required repairs.
The deadline to apply online is Oct. 26, 2018.

Shelly Lynn
So do you have to give the city names and addresses of your neighbors who are agreeing to this? Anyone can say they’ll do this but in turn keep the snowblower to themselves :(

Mike Steinborn
Probably. I haven’t looked at the application form but there’s probably something in there to prevent this program from being abused :)

Shelly Lynn
Mike Steinborn – I’ll give the city a call in the morning and get more info. We are on old Huron rd and I’m positive most of our street would appreciate this if we get snow this year

Mike Steinborn
Shelly Lynn – Check out this link: https://darrenk.blitzen.com/…/Neighbourhood-Shared-Snow…

Stacey Arnold
Yes you have to give them names. I’m not sure what the “length” of agreement is or what happens if someone moves? There’s a little more info here-
https://darrenk.blitzen.com/…/Neighbourhood-Shared-Snow…
I think in theory it’s a good idea; but it almost seems like they’re focusing on residents who can clear some of the city’s clearing areas as well

Mike Steinborn
Of course, there’s nothing preventing a group of neighbours getting together to buy a snowblower on their own :) Or someone who already has one to share theirs (something I’ve done after heavy snowfalls, which tend to be rare).

Gehan AF D Sabry
a deflective attempt to hold on to the archaic by-law that enslaves home-owners …

Yvette Maria Charbonneau
why not be part of the solution and figure it out to make it better for all instead of griping .. this is a potential solution to help neighbours including helping a senior neighbour who might not possibly be able to do it anymore sheesh

Gehan AF D Sabry
Yvette Maria Charbonneau … first I AM A SENIOR .. second .. I resent your language .. I do not gripe when I seek to correct a horrible injustice that you all seem to be brainwashed about … and if this deflective attempt was a solution I would have been happy about it .. but it is not .. it is a sorry cheap tranquilizer ..

Yvette Maria Charbonneau
I see your ranting as griping take offense all you want your not a part of the solution .. nor are you OFFERING a solution .. so still you are part of the problem

Gehan AF D Sabry
Yvette Maria Charbonneau – and you ARE the problem .. since you allow yourself to be herded by a handful of politicians

Yvette Maria Charbonneau
ha ha ha thank you so much for your entertainment value today
Mike Steinborn – I personally think that what you found is truly an amazing idea to get neighbours together to help one another and even be a bit more neighbourly bravo !

Kelly Sparks Farquhar
Wow ok a no vote – see ya

Gehan AF D Sabry
Kelly – I am not running for a vote .. ha ha

Kelly Sparks Farquhar
Gehan AF D Sabry – well you don’t seem very neighbourly or willing to try to help the situation

Gehan AF D Sabry
this is NOT a solution … this is a cheap cheap tranquilizer to drown attempts to demand our human right and defend ourselves as citizens in a supposedly civilized society .. which .. judging by how aggressive you lot are … is not quite that!!!

Shelly Lynn
Gehan AF D Sabry – maybe you should state your address or the area you live in so people who do want to make us of these snowblowers can be sure not to blow your driveway out in the midst of a snowstorm!

Yvette Maria Charbonneau
Gehan AF D Sabry – and yet you still have done nothing to offer a solution have you ?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Shelley and Lynn .. I have not experienced such venomous behaviour in a while … so below me to respond!

Shelly Lynn
Gehan AF D Sabry – you’re response doesn’t make sense. However, I do not understand how such a thing can be turned into something bad???!!! Nobody is forcing you to join in

Kelly Sparks Farquhar
Gehan AF D Sabry – thought you were running for a spot to represent pioneer park and Doon? If so you won’t get a vote from me

Gehan AF D Sabry
no Kelly I do not run for politics .. I have better things to do .. and I would never ask for your vote anyway!!

Kelly Sparks Farquhar
Do you even live in our community? Most of us are pretty nice and easy to get along with! Anyway hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and October fest! Cheers

Gehan AF D Sabry
Kelly Sparks Farquhar – happy thanksgiving to you too .. you could have fooled me about that nice and easy … but to answer your question .. yes I have lived in this wonderful community for 30 years and counting .. I was a member of the DPPCA since we had the grand opening of the community centre and I volunteered there on many programs … so .. shame on you lot for jumping at my throat like ths …

Kelly Sparks Farquhar
Gehan AF D Sabry – I don’t jump anywhere for anyone! I just hope all us dooners can get along is all! Have a great evening “neighbour”
Oh and sorry I was totally mistaken with you running because I have seen your name tied with a top runner! Please accept my apologies for that!

Gehan AF D Sabry
Kelly Sparks Farquhar – water under the bridge Kelly .. Florence had been my next door neighbour since I moved here 30 years ago, she welcomed me and made me part of the DPPCA and the board while the community centre was being built … I respect her very much

Kelly Sparks Farquhar
Gehan AF D Sabry that is awesome! Can not wait to see the “new” community centre

Gehan AF D Sabry
Kelly Sparks Farquhar – indeed .. all three of my kids grew up with the existing one .. now maybe my grandkids will enjoy the new one??

Kelly Sparks Farquhar
Gehan AF D Sabry- my kids did as well! Now hoping the same for my three granddaughters! See more in common than either of us thought!

Gehan AF D Sabry
Kelly Sparks Farquhar – we may even know each other by sight .. you never know !

Kelly Sparks Farquhar
Gehan AF D Sabry – true I worked at our Zehrs for 14 years lol. And my son will be 30 and daughter will be 29 in November

Gehan AF D Sabry
I look forward to meeting you .. we definitely crossed paths many times over the years !!!

Mike Franck
Well, you have the opportunity to change Council in a couple of weeks. For my part, I live in a Condo & have to pay for the services you seem to think should be free. (and I’d rather not be paying for yours)

Gehan AF D Sabry
Mike Franck- that is precisely the point I made to council … that the city should be ashamed of themselves for even mentioning raising taxes when they should have been taking responsibility for their own sidewalks from the start anyway .. and not even think of talking about fines and penalties .. Kitchener has grown exponentially and the tax base as well as technological advancements could easily afford what I am attempting to hold them accountable for … if they act fiscally, and efficiently … and stop wasting time (six months worth of staff time) just to come up with the idea of running a redundant pilot project at a cost of $750,000 which could have paid for the one time purchase of equipment … they came up with a million dollars just like that when the province raised the minimum wage …!!!!

Mike Franck
My humble apologies for having mistaken this for a Forum that considered different views. Your clearly follow City Hall far more closely than I; therefore, how dare I comment! Good night (& out)

my presentation January 15 2018 …

Sam Meilach
Good speech. I would add that as homeowners we have to make sure the sidewalks aren’t slippery. So when they’re icy we have to out lots of salt (if it’s too hard to scrape with a shovel). And yet they keep telling us not to use salt because it’s bad for the environment. But if we don’t they’ll impose a fine for have slippery sidewalks

Gehan AF D Sabry
yes Sam I totally agree .. .. btw I made a second presentation in June .. I would be happy to share if you are interested

Gehan AF D Sabry
it is a gross violation of homeowners human rights to clear snow on city sidewalks

Rod Pegg
It is the Kitchener bylaw to do so …. even without the penalty, we have traditionally always done this for our neighbourhoods … now with the mobility scooters and senior walkers out there on blustery days, I thought the city was already studying the winter sidewalk issue

Alysia Watkins
We get your point…can we leave it be? Kinda tired of hearing about this daily on this page

Gehan AF D Sabry
and I am tired of having to be abused and enslaved .. so sorry that my REAL problem makes you tired!!!!!

Pamela Fraser
Having to shovel sidewalks is not a REAL problem

Jeannie Brown Watt
Gehan AF D Sabry – please tell me how you feel abused and enslaved. Honestly, I am grateful to be living in this wonderful country. I believe that there are certainly more countries that have more serious issues of abusing and enslaving their people. Give it a rest, please!

Gehan AF D Sabry
if you don’t get it .. it is useless to engage with you … so sorry!

Jeannie Brown Watt
Gehan AF D Sabry – no need to be sorry. Please enlighten me on how we are abused and enslaved.

Gehan AF D Sabry
you don’t get it .. if someone has an issue .. you need to treat that concern with respect, if you don’t have that problem, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem .. I am finding Alysia and Pamela very insensitive

Gehan AF D Sabry
Jeannie Brown Watt – this has nothing to do with countries … we do live in the best country in the world .. but it only stays that way by being kept respectful of people

Jeannie Brown Watt
Gehan AF D Sabry – you are not answering my question. Again, please enlighten me on how we are abused and enslaved. I have no idea who Alysia and Pamela are. Do not tell me I don’t get it. Answer the question so I can “get it”

Gehan AF D Sabry
check my other post .. I did share my presentation to city hall in January .. and in June .. or even go to the council minutes .. it should be there .. I explained it all .. and guess what … there are many more like me who feel the same way

Andrew Leyes
Gehan AF D Sabry – give us the presentation here. Doesn’t seem like you even understand what you’re talking about. You keep spinning in circles around nothing

Alysia Watkins
Gehan AF D Sabry – not being insensitive I actually happen to agree with you on this topic but I also don’t need to see it brought up daily on my feed

Logan Macinnis
You’re going about this all wrong. I also agree that the city should be responsible but If you think that posting in this group is going to help your “real problem” then you’re delusional. All you are doing is wasting your time and the time of those who have to see this BS on a daily basis

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis Logan .. I am getting a lesson is how insensitive and uncaring my neighbours are … I have already made several presentations to city council and have taken the ‘democratic’ route, but when I see them now coming up with this ingenious idea of bribing people and tranquilizing the issue .. it concerns me very much…

Logan Macinnis
Gehan AF D Sabry – it shouldn’t, they haven’t changed the rules…it has been this way. You absolutely signed up for any local bylaws when you moved to the area…I’m sure a neighbor would help you clear snow if that’s a personal problem that you have but don’t make it a problem for all of us…you’re the only one I see complaining on this issue

Gehan AF D Sabry
Rod Pegg, yes Rod, but they are offering a tranquilizer of snowblower sharing program instead of solving the root problem and moving fast to rectify the injustice imposed on homeowners ..

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
How is giving a community a gift of easy snow removal a bad thing? When did we stop taking pride in, and maintaining, our own corner of the world? My family, my neighbours, my other communities, would often just take turns clearing our driveways, those of neighbours with one parent and small kids, the elderly, the sick, etc. Including our sidewalks, because we did not wish to see anyone in our community slip or fall. We do not need more service, we need more community engagement and action. Just as this snowblower encourages

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy – the key word is .. the sidewalk is city property .. I take much pride is every inch of my property … and we have wonderful relations with all our neighbours .. this is not a social issue .. please try to understand … this is about the city having tricked homeowners into doing its work for it, and now got more emboldened by imposing fines on us for something they should be doing, and went further by pitting pedestrians, strollers and wheelchairs against homeowners .. well homeowners are also the pedestrians, strollers, and wheelchairs .. we did not sign up for this free labour and it is something that we should never have been forced to do … sidewalks are city property .. they did not even allow us to replace a dead tree on the outside grass area … saying “do not touch it .. this is city property” .. so you tell me!

Colleen Erin
Gehan AF D Sabry – homeowners boulevards are also city property – is cutting the grass on the boulevard also an issue?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Colleen .. yes it is .. and I did mention it at one of my presentations to council .. I did say “if this is your property, why am I shovelling it and why am I mowing your grass for you”

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
Count me as one who doesn’t get it then. I am one of those people who look for solutions, and it seems you may be the opposite. Not likely we will come to any middle ground here. Where do you live? If I volunteer to clear the sidewalk out front your house will you be happy?

Rod Pegg
I like the snowblower plan … a healthy way to get neighbours out together and get some satisfaction bettering their neighbourhood

Gehan AF D Sabry
no one is asking you to stop your neighbourly togetherness, you are free to go out and share and shovel and do as you please, but it needs to be established and understood that it is not the job of a homeowner to do free work on city owned sidewalks .. I did not sign up for this ..and I object to the by-law, and find that imposing a fine is adding insult to injury

Rod Pegg
Okay

Gehan AF D Sabry
as for healthy .. I beg to differ … I have major back problems, and my husband has had a quadruple by-pass yet he has to stress in the middle of the night and maybe get another heart attack because he is being abused by the system

Rod Pegg
Neither one you should shovel snow … agreed

Gehan AF D Sabry
Rod Pegg – thank you Rod, I am being ridiculed by some here who think it is a fun thing ..

Rod Pegg
I’m surprised that a close neighbour hasn’t stepped in to help you out when there’s a winter storm … I help out a few of mine for a thank you wave & a smile

Gehan AF D Sabry
Rod Pegg – we do have wonderful neighbours and we have pot lucks and gatherings and all sorts of neighbourly activities .. I am not discussing social relations .. I am discussing a situation that has been unfair for too long .. it has been puzzling me for years now how this by-law came to be .. I had voiced it all along … two wrongs do not make a right …

Kelly Jackman
Maybe it’s time to buy a condo…to use the words ‘abused and enslaved’ in regards to shoveling snow is an insult to those who are truly abused and enslaved.

Gehan AF D Sabry
Kelly Jackman .. NO .. it is time the city steps up to its responsibility of clearing its own sidewalks .. I shouldn’t have to … never should have … I never signed up for it .. in a civilized country … our rights should be respected …

Kelly Jackman
When you moved to the city did they clear the side walks for you? No they did not, so now that your personal circumstances have changed the city you live in should accommodate you??? There are other places you can live that will clear your snow, there are companies you can hire to clear your snow, or you can move because YOUR personal circumstances have changed. I am not ridiculing you I am disagreeing with you

Nerina Avelleira
agree with Kelly’s first message – I came from condo world and you are at the mercy of 3 – 5 people

Gehan AF D Sabry
Kelly Jackman, it has nothing to do with my personal situation .. and you are clearly being brainwashed by the excuses the city offers in order to continue to shirk its responsibilities .. this issue has been bothering me for many years … and I had voiced my concerns quite often over the years …

Andrew Leyes
The government should wash my work clothes as they take taxes off my cheque. I’m tired after 40+ hr work weeks..

Gehan AF D Sabry
Andrew Leyes – you get paid for your work … I am being forced to do slave FREE labour to clear their sidewalk for them .. in return for which I hear : if you don’t do it we will fine you … how cheeky and disrespectful!!!

Jeannie Brown Watt
Why is this an issue now? If you’ve lived here for 30 years – it hasn’t changed. How cheeky and disrespectful for you to say it is “slave” labour. Perhaps you need to stop portraying as a victim and provide a solution. The City is providing a solution – be happy about it

Rod Pegg
We don’t usually argue on our neighbourhood page …

Kelli Kuzyk
Debate is fine if it is respectful. I love the solution the City has put forth but also understand that some people should not be moving heavy snow. There should be a sign up for those who need or want the help. Neighbors helping neighbors. Community spirit at its finest. There are 2 things I don’t want
1. Increased taxes to the City to cover the cost of removing our snow although I do agree that there are some areas that need faster help to remove the snow
2. I don’t want the risk of torn up grass to then have to repair in the Spring because someone didn’t care enough to do the job well. For my home I would want to opt out and do it ourselves. We already help out other neighbors as well.

Wasylyk Greg
Maybe move into a condo then, tired of hearing this daily. Take this problem you have to someone that might actually do something and keep it off of here. It’s getting very old!

Kirstan Howells
Is your only solution for the city to do it for you? Where will the money for that come from? Taxes? Reduce other services? They offered a temporary solution while they look into other solutions. Maybe partner with your neighbour and take turns shoveling. I think many people agree with what you are saying, but how you are saying it is going to get you no where. The city won’t listen and your neighbors won’t want to hear it any more

Gehan AF D Sabry
Kirstan .. well .. I have been doing it FOR THEM for 30 years and counting !!!! the city manages to come up with millions in no time when it wants to .. waiving the “raise taxes” threat is just another tool they are using to alienate people from the idea .. they are offering temporary tranquilizers .. the money they are dishing out now for the snowblowers could well be utilized towards working towards a one time purchase of necessary equipment to start taking their responsibility seriously towards clearing their own sidewalks

Erica DeFrane
Please stop using “abused” and “enslaved.” It’s very offensive

Mukul Verma
I 100% agree

Gehan AF D Sabry
Erica, what do you call being forced into FREE forced labour for the past 30 years ..

Erica DeFrane
I call it a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM.
People are actually being abused daily.
People are actually enslaved right now.
Using this inflammatory language is an insult to actual victims.
I understand you’re angry, and feel this is unjust. You have a right to be upset by what you feel is unfair.
Just stop using terms that diminish the people who actually are suffering because of real abuse and slavery. Why is that so difficult?
And for the record, I can’t shovel my own snow due to health reasons, and I live on my own. I hire someone to do it or my neighbour helps me out. I understand your frustration however I would never call it “slavery.”

Gehan AF D Sabry
Erica, so you object to a word, but not the concept of what it is? being forced to do something for free that the city is supposed to do for itself .. is called abuse and slavery .. any which way you look at it .. you are making me reach out for a dictionary .. give me a sec here ..:”a person held in servitude .. who has lost control of himself and is dominated by by something or someone …. and they give the example of alcoholism and drug addiction as well .. so it is not only a political issue .. I am a writer and a human rights activist, and I know how to use words .. the problem is people do not understand

Erica DeFrane
Gehan, I have an English degree. I understand just fine.
You just refuse to change how you are phrasing it, which means you are trying to be as inflammatory as possible.
I said clearly in my comment that agree that you are entitled to your feelings on the subject.
In the current political climate when the world is actually talking loudly about traumatic abuse and deep running racism stemming from slavery using this type of language is irresponsible and only serves to upset people further. It’s not going to help you win people over to supporting your cause.
It’s not me who isn’t understanding, it’s you. But it’s your decision, I’m going to block you so I don’t have to read it anymore if you decide to continue in this manner. It’s offensive. If you don’t understand why that’s the case the we have nothing to discuss

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
Gehan AF D Sabry – I will even come clear your sidewalk in a t-rex costume lol It is a beautiful day in beautiful Doon, try to find things to celebrate rather than problems, I promise it will make you smile

Kristy Grothen
As an admin for several groups, perhaps an admin for this group could turn off commenting? Just a suggestion. All the points have been made, and honestly I love being in the group but don’t need the overflowing notifications, as I imagine most everyone feels that way. Just my two cents

Laura Em-Oh
I’m not sure what part about this you don’t understand. Part of living in a city and owning a home means you have to follow the bylaws of said city. If someone falls down on the sidewalk in front of your home due to the ice and gets injured, both you AND the city can get sued. It is your responsibility as a homeowner to ensure your property is looked after so people won’t get injured. If you don’t like it, perhaps it’s time for you to get a condo or move to an apartment. You’ve made your point. Many people do not agree with you. It is unnecessary and frankly annoying to keep posting about this daily. There are more pressing issues happening in our city/province/country/world

Gehan AF D Sabry
Laura Em-Oh .. and I would have gladly supported your issues if you had respected mine … however .. I have discovered that I am surrounded by quite a few insensitive selfish bullies … and Laura, just because THEY TOLD YOU SO … and somehow slipped an outrageous by-law doesn’t mean it is right or that one should just be herded along . . key word again .. “your property” … the SIDEWALK IS NOT MY PROPERTY .. omg!!!

Laura Em-Oh
You really should speak to a lawyer about this so you can clearly understand why you have to look after the sidewalk and boulevard. Because you do not want to listen to anyone else

Gehan AF D Sabry
Laura Em-Oh – by laws are made to be challenged and changed .. I do not need a lawyer .. all you need to do is stop being brainwashed by the city

Laura Em-Oh
didn’t want people to personally attack you and then you call me brainwashed. If you want people to take you seriously, you should look back on how you responded to everyone on this thread

Gehan AF D Sabry
Laura Em-Oh – that is really rich coming from one who tells me to seek professional help

Laura Em-Oh
Gehan AF D Sabry Excuse me? When did I say that?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Laura Em-Oh scroll back .. I am not making this up

Laura Em-Oh
Gehan – someone named Logan said that to you. My name is Laura. Perhaps you need to scroll back and look a bit more carefully before throwing accusations around at people

Gehan AF D Sabry
my sincere apologies Laura, my mistake

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
People not agreeing with you is not bullying. Please, stop taking terms reserved for serious matters, and applying them to to your pet peeve

Erica DeFrane
How are you being bullied? I asked you politely to change your terminology and other people have asked you the same and you have refused. Asking you to change offensive wording is not bullying. By making things so heated you are losing the support of people you may have had otherwise, it’s not people bullying you.

Laura Em-Oh
My disagreeing with your point of view is not bullying you. I’m giving you information. You do not want to listen to anyone and keep using offensive terms. I don’t care if you do or do not support my ideas. Facts are facts

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
FACT Shoveling a sidewalk is not a human rights violation. FACT Stating that fact is not bullying

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy – FACT .. free forced labour of clearing city owned sidewalks is a violation of my rights as a home owner and as a human being .. FACT disagreeing with me is no problem .. but opting to muzzle me is bullying!

Logan Macinnis
Seek professional help Gehan…you need it and we can’t help you

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis … and so starts the personal insults .. wow ..

Logan Macinnis
Not a personal insult at all…Interesting that you view it as one though.

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis – what’s interesting is that you had no meaningful contribution and resorted to attacking .. I have been in the public domain for too long to be affected by your technique

Logan Macinnis
This whole thread doesn’t contain a “meaningful contribution” get over yourself and find something useful to do with your time

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis – if you had something useful to do, maybe my interests wouldn’t have been your concern in the first place … I advocate for what is right .. that is what I do …

Yvette Maria Charbonneau
imagine how bad its going to get when it actually is snowing !! we are in a bit of a heat wave right now and this post has been repeated in every community group at least 3 times now lol hold on folks its going to be a rough winter with this one I think lol

Gehan AF D Sabry
you are not funny, you are insensitive

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
No, if someone put a muzzle on you that would be assault. Being asked to please stop referring to a household chore as a human rights violation is just an example of good sense. If you honestly believe that this is violating your human rights, then this community group is not your solution. Please handle your concerns appropriately and contact a lawyer. I am certain with this case you will have your pick of lawyers volunteering to help protect you

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy – it is not a household chore .. the sidewalk is NOT MY PROPERTY

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
OK, call a lawyer. Let me know what they say, I’ll wait…..

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy – I do not think it is your place to tell me what to do ..

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
You have a problem, that you have voiced repeatedly. Clearly your current methods are not resolving anything. If I were forced into human slavery do you know what I would do? Alert the people who could help, such as the police or a lawyer. So, we can not help you with this (despite my repeated offers to just shovel your sidewalk for you). As opposed to repeating yourself like a broken Chatty Cathy, go on to the next step in solving your problem. You say this is a human rights violation, I can’t be certain it is not, so seems logical to call a lawyer (who can be certain) and go from there. What on earth do you have to gain from continuing on here? What is the end goal for you?

Laura Em-Oh
Gehan I offered that a suggestion below because I honestly think a lawyer is the only person who can clearly explain to you your rights in this situation. It wasn’t meant to belittle you. I studied the law, but am not a lawyer therefore I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge on this topic to fully explain this issue to you. But someone who does this for a living most likely does

Gehan AF D Sabry
Laura Em-Oh – Laura, lawyers implement the laws, what I am discussing is CHANGING the by-law .. because it is in violation of my rights .. as a human being and as a homeowner… I know my rights very well .. and I am really disappointed by the number of people who want to succumb to what is being done to them .. this great country is built on democracy and justice .. the fact that it has been accepted by so many and not challenged by those who agree with me .. is because the city has been waiving the “raise taxes” and using arbitrary measures like increasing fines

Laura Em-Oh
There is no way the city can afford to have enough human power to clear sidewalks in a quick and efficient manner. This is why it must be done by the homeowner. When a snow event happens they can barely get the roads cleared quickly enough. The city would go bankrupt with the amount of money it would cost to do this. It makes fiscal and general common sense to have the homeowner clear the snow in front of your own property so people can walk by without falling, wheelchairs can get through, etc

Zack Merry
The city barely plows the snow and you expect them to do a decent job shovelling sidewalks??

Gehan AF D Sabry
that is precisely why they should be held to account and made to perform their duties fiscally and effectively

Gehan AF D Sabry
Laura Em-Oh .. that is exactly the misinformation that is being circulated .. I have challenged it .. this city has grown and its tax based multiplied, so did technology … there are solutions .. but you are not being told about them

Laura Em-Oh
I used to live in a city where they did clear the sidewalks. It was never done very quickly and got axed because it was too much money. As well, properties were damaged by it (grass and gardens ripped up when they didn’t stay on the sidewalk)

Gehan AF D Sabry
Laura Em-Oh – it is a city responsibility .. so they need to do it and do it properly .. failing that ..they need to change their ways .. we have the right to expect that!!!

Logan Macinnis
Gehan AF D Sabry – why do you expect perfection from our city? Do you have any idea how much it would cost for the city to keep every sidewalk clear of snow every time it snows? It would be astronomical. I think you are expecting too much

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis – they are already working towards the solution .. and rather than waste 6 months of staff time to “study” and come up with a redundant pilot project that would have cost $750,000 for a pilot project .. my presentation in June 2018 suggested that money go towards a one time purchase of equipment in order to move ahead, technology right now is such that an average crescent requires a maximum of 10 minutes .. that is one man one piece of equipment … it also creates jobs both for the individuals and for subcontractors … . they have the money, they now need to start acting fiscally responsible and perform their long shirked duty .. dangling the snowblower share idea right now is a tranquilizer not a solution …or hiring more by-law enforces against what is already a travesty and a violation of our rights is WRONG ..

Logan Macinnis
But it’s not a “one time purchase” all of the machines purchased need regular maintenance, gas, drivers etc… and while it does create more jobs, they are government jobs paid for by our tax dollars. This means that they will have to take funding from elsewhere. Perhaps we should fire a few more nurses or teachers so we can have our sidewalks cleared?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis – no you should fire more high paid bureaucrats ..

Logan Macinnis
So you’re suggesting that the high paid bureaucrats fire some of the high paid bureaucrats? Yeah I’m sure that will happen!

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis – our tax dollars already provide a very sufficient budget, they managed overnight to provide the ONE MILLION extra dollars to cover the minimum wage increase when the province dictated it .. so .. I see no excuse for continuing with the charade about sidewalks

Logan Macinnis
Gehan AF D Sabry – they didn’t have to prepare “overnight” as they knew about the increase months in advance and had time to prepare, just like business owners did, and even if they get more money to spread around (and they likely will with Cannabis legalization next week) it will likely go to more important things than the sidewalks. Hiring more nurses, teachers, police, fixing the roads etc…

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis – funding for nurses and teachers is PROVINCIAL not municipal, and by overnight I meant .. they did not threaten to raise taxes over it..

Logan Macinnis
Gehan AF D Sabry – because they didn’t have to…because they spent time preparing. And I understand that nurses & teachers are paid through the municipal branch but at the end of the day it all just our tax dollars

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis – they re-allocated from their existing budget, what I meant was there wasn’t a hoo ha about it … because they can’t mess with the province .. our tax dollars are not being used in a fiscally responsible way … some bureaucrats act as though it is their own money to waste

Logan Macinnis
Gehan AF D Sabry sounds like that’s the issue that needs to be tackled! Please name one point in time where the government was fiscally responsible with tax dollars. And even if you find one there will still be 50% of the population that disagrees. You are seeking perfection in a system that is built to be divided…it’s an impossible task

Logan Macinnis
And even if you find one there will still be 50% of the population that disagrees. You are seeking perfection in a system that is built to be divided…it’s an impossible task

Gehan AF D Sabry
I can only try Logan ..

Logan Macinnis
Gehan AF D Sabry – at the end of the day I just hope everyone is living their happiest life, and if that’s dedicating 30 years to get your sidewalks cleared…all power to ya! Good luck!!

Gehan AF D Sabry
Logan Macinnis – no I actually have been doing other work .. I am a human rights activist on many issues

Logan Macinnis
Gehan AF D Sabry – t hat’s great! I hope you end up creating change some day!

Rod Pegg
Proven again … an argument can never be won on Facebook … the dog and I are going for a walk in the woods on this beauty day … turning off notifications to me for this post

Gehan AF D Sabry
Rod Pegg, enjoy your walk .. and of courses it is your choice .. but maybe one day you will have an issue that you are passionate about … hope you get the support you will need

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
Question for you Gehan AF D Sabry…. I live in a home that my father in law and his father jointly own. It is their home, their responsibility. Despite paying rent, I am required to shovel the steps and driveway, as I am the healthiest in the home most days. Do you think I should pursue action against my father in law and his father for not clearing their own property? It is an honest question, and I would very much appreciate a direct answer.

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah tonin Kennedy .. no Sarah … my honest answer is .. where family is concerned one does not use logic, one makes every effort to be supportive .. that obviously does not apply to my argument with the city .. no apples and oranges

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
What support do you want though? This is the confusing part. Even if you succeeded in getting every single member of this group to agree with you, how would that change the issue you are so passionate about? Do you understand why people are encouraging you to take the correct steps? There is literally nothing to be gained from hammering on the same point. Help me connect the dots, what are you trying to accomplish?

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
I did not ask you to relate it to your issue. I asked you if you think that scenario is a human rights violation and if I would be in a position to pursue action?

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy I personally hold family in high regard, and don’t hold back wherever I can in such situation .. you asked for my perspective ..

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
For the third time…. Would I be in a legal position to pursue action against them? That is the question.

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy – I answered you TWICE .. I do not apply legal anything where family is concerned

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
Ok. The homeowners of the home I rent, forget they are family. Now what? Direct answer, I asked so kindly for a direct answer

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy – depends what contract or agreement you committed to … so again .. I will remind you .. I did not sign up for the free labour they imposed on me nor accept the insult of imposing a fine … that is just me!!!

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
Gehan AF D Sabry – thank you, that is the clearest you have made yourself (to me) about your concern. I would suggest, again, that speaking with a lawyer is your best approach to finding some degree of resolution. I am still really struggling to sort out what you are hoping the outcome would be of having everyone here agree with you? I am assuming your end goal is to have the by-law changed, so I am trying to offer suggestions that may actually lead to your end goal

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
What support do you want though? This is the confusing part. Even if you succeeded in getting every single member of this group to agree with you, how would that change the issue you are so passionate about? Do you understand why people are encouraging you to take the correct steps? There is literally nothing to be gained from hammering on the same point. Help me connect the dots, what are you trying to accomplish? (question repeated from above, as I truly would like to see some resolution to this issue)

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
What support do you want though? This is the confusing part. Even if you succeeded in getting every single member of this group to agree with you, how would that change the issue you are so passionate about? Do you understand why people are encouraging you to take the correct steps? There is literally nothing to be gained from hammering on the same point. Help me connect the dots, what are you trying to accomplish? (repeated question from above, as I am truly trying to find a way to help resolve this issue for you)

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy – the by-law change requires our representatives to council … the law-makers .. hopefully .. to realize how wrong that archaic by-law was and to correct it .. no lawyer is required for this … it is political activism … and I have been working on that … and I am getting to hear the public opinion .. and I will tell you .. so far the supporters of my view are far more than those who here have attempted to suppress me … whether because they do not understand their rights or because they have been conditioned to obey blindly .. and this had been a very interesting exercise!!!

Sarah Tonin Kennedy
Ok, that makes some sense to me. I am all for activism, whether I agree or not, I will always defend your right to have your say. May I suggest you start a separate group in relation to your activism? I am feeling that you may find a lot more support that way, and perhaps your end goal will be able to pick up some momentum. Time spent arguing with those who don’t agree is simply time wasted when it comes to activism. Find your like minded group, and get busy with a plan. Good luck ✌

Gehan AF D Sabry
Sarah Tonin Kennedy – on the contrary .. this is a learning experience I am testing the waters .. in fact I learn more from those who raise counter arguments …

Mike Steinborn
It looks to me like both parties are attempting to address the same issue but from different perspectives that may actually be complementary rather than opposed to each other. Helping our neighbours with snow removal, whether on our own or via the city’s snowblower program, addresses the issue now and perhaps even for the foreseeable future. What Gehan is proposing is also a viable solution but one that will certainly take much more time to achieve, provided the City can ever be convinced. Same battle, different fronts. I also agree that we’ve probably had adequate representation of the positions and I will at this point turn off further commenting on this post. FYI individual members can personally turn off further notifications for any post they wish simply by clicking on the 3 dots at the top right corner of the original post and selecting “Turn off notifications for this post”

on messenger:
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HI Mike, I appreciate your closing remarks on my post … since you say you closed comments I am messaging you … I have already been making great progress and strides on this issue with the current council .. my concern is that I may lose that support on the next council .. depending who gets elected .. especially that offering the snowblower share program seems to me .. as I called it .. a tranquilizer not a solution … so thanks!

Gehan AF D Sabry
Wes Hill Upneet Sasha Sidhu SECOND CALL .. I am still hoping to hear from you on this issue .. thanks

Wes Hill
Hi Gehan. Since last we messaged one another, I’ve been looking into the concerns you’ve raised, as well as the feedback you have received — specifically related to sidewalks in winter.

Currently, our city has over 1,100 km of city sidewalks, and maintains about 200 km across the city, with property owners responsible for the section of sidewalk fronting their properties. The city is test-piloting year round maintenance on the trails (something I’m all for continuing), but I know you’d like to see the city take over maintaining sidewalks citywide. I can’t think of a single person that wouldn’t like to see the city take over sidewalk snow removal so it isn’t an unreasonable view by any stretch.

So let’s take a look at a neighbouring city that does provide the service just for comparison. ( I chose Guelph because a family member lives there in a neighbourhood similar to Pioneer Park & Doon communities)

The City of Guelph, according to their website “clears snow from 660 kilometres of sidewalk, 180 crosswalks, crossings, steps, walkways, and 590 bus stops throughout the city.
Sidewalks are prioritized based on pedestrian traffic volume and proximity to high use facilities, such as schools, hospitals, and public buildings.”

The page goes on to say:

“In Guelph, there are nine zones for snow plowing and sanding, which are prioritized into two classifications:

High priority sidewalks – serviced first after four centimetres of snow accumulates.

Residential sidewalks– serviced after eight centimetres of snow accumulates.

Clearing the ice and snow from the sidewalk in front of your home or business will make it safer for everyone. Keeping sidewalks free of snow and ice is important for everyone’s safety, particularly the elderly, children and people with disabilities.”

As I mentioned, I have a family member who has lived in Guelph for almost 15 years, in a long established neighbourhood with predominantly 50 foot lots, and in close proximity to a bus stop on well used bus route.

She tells me that a typically, residential streets, can take a week or more before the sidewalks see any city workers. Clearing snow within 24 hrs by residents is still a requirement. Bylaw enforcement is spotty at best, only enforced if complaints are lodged. Dog walking in the winter is impossible thanks to snow and ice build up. She is actually pretty annoyed over the poor cost-benefit of Guelph’s snow removal services. She and her husband MUST own an SUV in order to get off their own street most days through the winter.

Keeping our sidewalks walkable year round is a serious challenge. If we want people to walk, bike and ride transit — we are going to have to do a lot better than we are right now.

It comes down to how we can make that happen efficiently and cost effectively. I know this isn’t the ‘yes I will fight for it at all costs’ answer you’d like, but I will commit to doing everything I can to improve snow removal services in our city

Gehan AF D Sabry
Wes Hill – I very much appreciate your response as well as the time and interest you took in looking into the issue … while we were out talking to residents on the weekend … one person said he found a city vehicle parked in a quiet place with the city employees FAST ASLEEP inside .. he took a photo and sent it along to the city .. he never got a single response or REACTION !! … I tell you this because everyone is being coerced or brainwashed into thinking that if the city does the work it will be an additional cost that they are scaring everyone into believing will result in increased taxes .. and that I TOTALLY TOTALLY refuse … they should clean up their own act and perform as efficiently as the rest of us have to .. as you and everyone who read my comments (on other posts) know .. this for me is the most paramount issue … I have been puzzling over it for the past 30 years and finally found the time to take it on … so I am not wanting to wait for pilot projects and staff reports and all the rest of the bureaucratic nonsense …. it is an abominable travesty that needs immediate fixing … I will add .. and I find it unacceptable that they even dare mention fines let alone increasing them .. one current councillor said that “they found that doing so minimizes the uncleared sidewalks” .. that literally made my blood pressure shoot sky high … I am a resident as well as a pedestrian and was for many years a stroller user and our family are all cyclers … and our tax dollars should serve us all … I have been doing FREE hard labour on behalf of the city for far too long!

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Canada’s 149 th Anniversary

Anicka Christine Bakos
is a University of Waterloo graduate with interests in writing, editing and helping Canadian newcomers learn English

Each year on Canada Day special citizenship ceremonies take place throughout the country.‭ ‬I like to take‭ ‬the opportunity each year to reflect upon my experience growing up in‭ ‬Canada.‭ ‬I‭’‬m sure most of us would agree that we live in one of the best places in the world.‭

It‭’‬s no surprise that earlier this year the University of Pennsylvania‭’‬s Wharton School of business and BAV Consulting ranked Canada as the second-best country in the world from among sixty nations in a survey released at the World Economic Forum in Davos,‭ ‬Switzerland.‭ ‬And I think Canada‭’‬s former Governor General the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson would wholeheartedly agree with the survey results.

Recently I had the opportunity to hear the former governor general speak at a lecture at the University of Waterloo.‭ ‬Having arrived from Hong Kong as a refugee at the age of three,‭ ‬Clarkson related some of her own experiences growing up in Canada and reflected on why multiculturalism works so well in this country.‭ ‬Like many of us,‭ ‬she reminisced about being uprooted,‭ ‬coming to a new country and having to‭ ‬“learn new things and new habits”‬.

Clarkson believes that the process of belonging to a new country is an important one.‭ ‬She explained that‭ ‬“When we talk about belonging we have to think of what we belong to,‭ ‬and we can‭’‬t belong unless there is something to belong to.‭ ‬You have to be able to belong,‭ ‬but you also have to be able to criticize,‭ ‬to disagree,‭ ‬and that is fundamental to belonging”‬.

Clarkson believes that Canada has significantly changed for the better.‭ ‬She described Canada as a‭ ‬“white,‭ ‬fairly racist country‭”‬ back in‭ ‬1942‭ ‬where‭ ‬“laws were enacted…‭ ‬to discourage any kind of immigration from China‭”‬ adding that‭ ‬“parts of Canada were intensely racist”‬.

Many of us forget that in fact overt discrimination remained a part of the official Canadian immigration policy up until the latter half of the twentieth century.‭ ‬In‭ ‬1962,‭ ‬new immigration regulations were finally introduced eliminating overt racial discrimination and establishing skills as the main criteria for determining admissibility rather than race or national origin.‭ ‬But it was not until Canada‭’‬s adoption of multiculturalism as an official policy in‭ ‬1971‭ ‬that the cultural diversity of Canadian immigrants began to be promoted as an integral part of the Canadian identity.‭ ‬Clarkson agreed that over the years Canada has become‭ ‬“very good at welcoming people,‭ ‬welcoming refugees,‭ ‬introducing people to new languages‭ [‬and at‭] ‬settlement”‬.

But according to Clarkson,‭ ‬we as a country need to strive to become even better.‭ ‬Clarkson argued that‭ ‬“We also have to feel that all human beings are equal.‭ ‬That everybody is a human being and there is no human being who is more human than any other‭”‬ adding that‭ ‬“That‭’‬s something we have to really internalize because I think it is something that underlies a lot of problems that we face today”‬.

The former governor general described Canada today as‭ ‬“a society…‭ ‬that creates a lateral trust among all equals because we are all equals as human beings,‭ ‬and it’s a key element of our democracy‭”‬ adding that‭ ‬“I think that we have a society that is like a kind of great friendship”‬. She went on to say that‭ “‬It’s very important to know that in order to belong you don’t have to agree with everything,‭ ‬and you don’t have to agree with each other or your leaders.‭ ‬When you come here and you become a citizen you have to say,‭ ‬you know,‭ ‬everything that’s happened in this country up until now I accept and I am part of it now”.

Asked how she coped in her new country in times of difficulty,‭ ‬Clarkson replied,‭ ‬“You look for mentors,‭ ‬you look for people who are going to help you,‭ ‬and that’s what makes me believe so strongly in the public education system‭”‬ adding that‭ ‬“Public education is the single most important thing that we have going for us as an immigrant nation.‭ ‬If we don’t have strong public education we can’t make our values known‭; ‬that is the most important thing”.

Clarkson concluded by reminding her audience,‭ ‬“We have to learn to live in a society of belonging with the levels of discomfort,‭ ‬the difference it brings.‭ ‬Living with that level of discomfort shows sophistication of human activity which differentiates us with what we call the bad side of tribalism.‭ ‬We have to understand that we’ve already created in this country a really remarkable thing”‬.

So as we celebrate Canada‭’‬s‭ ‬149th birthday,‭ ‬let‭’‬s all help to make this the best country in the world‭!

Happy Canada Day‭!

Genocide Denied, Genocide Repeated

Aris Babikian
Journalist and Human Rights Advocate
Aris is a journalist with Horizon Weekly and Nor Hai Horizon TV program. He appeared on numerous TV and radio talk shows (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio and TV, CFRB radio, Michael Coren radio and TV shows, CTV-TV, Rogers Cable, CFMT TV, CTS TV, etc..). A City of Toronto municipal elections candidate (councillor). International elections monitor representing the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for the 2003 parliamentary elections in Armenia. Human Rights Activist. Participated in the National (Canadian) Umbrella Organizations’ roundtable on the “UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance”. Consulted with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to develop Canada’s international human rights policies. Participated in consultation meetings with high-level federal officials regarding changes to the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship Act. Prepared briefs and testified at House of Commons Heritage Committee hearings related to multicultural, Canadian culture and heritage issues and the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC). Chairman, Political Affairs Committee, Canadian Ethnocultural Council. Served on media, immigration, census, redress and political action committees of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council
Awards:
* Ontario Volunteer Service Award (25 years of service)
* The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal
* The Canadian Ethnocultural Council’s Citation for Outstanding Services
* Canada’s 125th Confederation Commemorative Medal
and he is fluent in English, Armenian, Greek, Arabic

Genocide Denied, Genocide Repeated
Ninety One Years after exterminating 1.5 million Armenians, Turkey still denies responsibility

Imagine a country that denies the Holocaust. Imagine that the same country insists that Jews were killed because they were disloyal to Germany and were also guilty of killing German soldiers during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Bizarre? Fiendish? Ridiculous statements which do not deserve a response? Yet something very similar has been asserted for the past 90 years by Turkey. Despite hundreds of books by genocide scholars, tons of documents in German, Austrian, British, French, American and Russian archives, eyewitness accounts, diplomatic reports and countless Western newspaper reports, the Turkish Government inexplicably denies that, in 1915, it committed a deliberate, government-organized genocide against its Armenian minority.

It should be noted that unlike Holocaust deniers, such as Ernst Zundle and Jim Keegstra, who constitute the lunatic fringe of society, historical revisionism in the case of the Armenian Genocide is being carried out by the Turkish government.

Pre-Genocide Conditions

The Armenian Genocide was the first state-sponsored and painstakingly planned Genocide of the 20th Century. The mass annihilation of the Armenians from their 3,000-year-old ancestral homeland during the First World War was the final act in a long history of repression and massacres by Ottoman Turkish Governments. In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan, after signing the Treaty of Berlin (1878), a peace treaty with the Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Austria-Hungary), promising to implement reforms to ensure the protection of Armenians, reneged on his promises and guarantees and the condition of Armenians in the six provinces of historical Armenia deteriorated even further. According to Article 61 of the treaty, the Sultan was obliged to implement reforms in the Eastern Provinces where most Armenians lived. However, Sultan Abdul Hamid (1876-1908), fearing the loss of further territory, delayed the implementation of the promised reforms, and instead between 1894-1896 unleashed unprecedented slaughters claiming 300,000 Armenian lives. In its Sep. 10, 1895 issue, one New York Times headline, among hundreds of reports that year on the massacre of Armenians, heralded, “Another Armenian Holocaust”, which showed that the massacres of Armenians in the earlier periods were but a precursor of what was to follow in 1915.

The July 1908 revolution by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), better known as “The Young Turks”, against the bloody rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid brought fresh hopes of civil and human rights reforms to the Greek, Armenian, Jewish, Kurdish and Assyrian minorities. However, the crushing military defeats (1909-1913) of the Ottoman Army in the Balkans and in North Africa, the migration of Balkan Turkic refugees to the Armenian provinces and the fear of the revival of the Armenian reform issue, aggravated the plight of the Armenians. In January 1913 a coup d’etat by nationalistic and extremist officers of the Young Turks sealed the fate of the Armenians. After the successful coup d’etat of the radical Young Turks, headed by the triumvirate of Ismail Enver, Jemal Pasha, and Mehmed Talaat, a new ideology of expanding the empire of Turkish-speaking people from Turkey to the Caucasus to Central Asia became the modus operandi of the new government in Constantinople (known today as Istanbul). The Turkish nationalists saw the Armenians as an obstacle to a Pan-Turkish Empire.

The Outbreak of the First World War

The outbreak of the First World War presented the perfect opportunity for the triumvirate to implement their “Final Solution” of “the Armenian problem” — to “cleanse” the region once and for all of Armenians to create the dream of a Turkish Empire.

The 1915 genocide was different from the previous Armenian massacres of 1894-1896 and 1909 in that it was carefully planned and organized. In July 1914, representatives of the Turkish Government attended the Eighth Annual Congress of the Dashnag Armenian party and attempted to persuade their leaders to instigate Russian Armenians to rise up against the tsar when the impending war broke out. The Dashnag leaders refused to involve the Russian Armenian people in such an adventure. They pledged that in case of war, they would ensure the loyalty of Ottoman Armenians, that they would enlist in the army to defend Turkey. At the time the area of historic Armenia was occupied by two empires–the Ottoman and the Russian.

The Dashnag’s kept their word. Twenty-four hours after a secret military and political treaty was signed by Turkey and Germany (August 2, 1914) and general mobilization was declared, 250.000 Ottoman Armenians, between the ages of 20 to 45 enlisted in the Turkish army. On the Russian side, Armenians were conscripted as well in the tsar’s army. In 1914, The Turkish government declared war on Russia by attacking the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. On the Eastern Front, Enver launched an attack on Russian forces and occupied Kars. In early 1915, the Russian Army, with the help of Russian Armenian volunteers, counterattacked and inflicted a crushing blow to Enver in Sarikmish. Enver’s humiliating defeat was the death knell for the Ottoman Armenians.

Genocide in Motion

After the Sarikmish disaster, using the pretext of Armenians’ treachery, sabotage and collaboration with the Russian army, the ruling triumvirate issued a decree to disarm Armenian conscripts in the Ottoman army and herd them into labour battalions. The 250,000 disarmed Armenian soldiers therefore became the first victims of the genocide, months before the deportations formally began. In April, just before the deportation of all Armenians, the Armenian civil, religious, intellectual and professional leaders began their death march. Over 600 Armenian leaders in Constantinople and 2,345 in the provinces were summoned, arrested and executed on the night of April 23-24, 1915.

After the Armenian elite was wiped out and the Armenian population left defenceless and leaderless to organise serious resistance, the third stage of the Genocide was set in motion. Armenians were ordered to leave their cities, villages and towns on the pretext of “military necessity.” They were not allowed to take essential goods or provisions of survival. Once the women, children and elderly were marched out of populated areas, the “Special Organization”,(known as the Teshkilati Mahsusa) or “death squads”, consisting of violent criminals released just for this duty, and irregular troops, even gendarmes who were supposed to protect the deportees, attacked, raped, starved and killed the defenceless caravans. Survivors were marched to the Syrian Dessert and were either drowned in the Euphrates River or burned alive in a series of underground caves— primitive gas chambers—near Deir el-Zor, in Syria. To cover their heinous crime from the very beginning, the Young Turks suspended the Ottoman parliament, instituted martial law, and issued, on May 27, 1915, the Temporary Law of Deportation. Furthermore, to confiscate the property and goods of the deported Armenians, the Young Turks, on September 27, 1915 issued the Law of Abandoned Goods.

Genocidal Intent

It is abundantly clear today, as it was even in 1915, that what happened to the Armenians was not the result of “civil strife”, “rebellion” or “military necessity” as successive Turkish governments continue to claim in shameful defence. The Armenian Genocide was a state-sponsored and state-sanctioned plan. At a 1910 conference in Salonika, Young Turk leader Talaat stated, “there can be no question of equality [for minorities] until we have concluded our task of Ottomanizing the empire.” Three months later the Young Turk leadership approved Talaat’s plan in a secret meeting. It is noteworthy that as early as January 11, 1915, months before the formal deportations and killings, the New York Times, in a bold headline on page two, published a blatant warning by Talaat, “Says Turks Advise Christians to Flee.” It is also not surprising to find that, two days later, on page three of the New York Times for January 13, 1915, we find another ominous warning by Turkey’s leader, “Talaat Declares There is Only Room for Turks in Turkey.” The full portent of this warning was yet to be fully understood. It was not until the spring and summer of 1915 that its full meaning became clear to all. If this does not express intent, what, pray tell, does?

The creation of the Special Organization on August 5, 1914 — killing units comprised of released violent criminals, brigands and Turkish refugees from the Balkans — is further proof of the Young Turks’ intent. Dissolving the Parliament at the start of the WW1 was another indication of the Young Turks intent to have a free hand to implement their plan. German, Austrian and American diplomats, missionaries and eyewitness reports, dispatches and other accounts further corroborate the premeditated intention at race extermination. In this regard German military and diplomatic sources are especially important. Germany was a military and political ally of Turkey and each unit in the Ottoman Army had a German military advisor. No one would question German documents or accuse Germany of war propaganda against Turkey, as the Turks do British, French, Russian and American documents.

The disingenuous Turkish argument that Ottoman Turkey had no intention or ability to carry a plan of exterminating the Armenians in a time of war when the Turkish Army was preoccupied with fighting on many fronts, has been refuted by impartial historians, even by some Turkish officials and scholars.

General Vehib Pasha, Commander of the Turkish Third Army, in his deposition read during the March 29, 1919 session of the Turkish Government court martial stated

“The massacre and destruction of the Armenians and the plunder and pillage of their goods were the results of decisions reached by Ittihad (the ruling Young Turks party) Central Committee . . . the atrocities were carried out under a program that was determined upon and involved a definite case of premeditation”

Senator Resit Akif Pasha, president of the post-war state council, declared in November 1918, during the Ottoman Parliament debate on the Armenian massacres:“ While humbly occupying my post of President of State Council, to my surprise, I came across a strange [combination] of official orders. One of them, was issued by the notorious Interior Ministry, the order for deportation. The other, however was an ominous secret circular issued by Ittihad’s (Young Turks) Central Committee. It directed the provincial party units to proceed with the execution of the accursed plan. Thereupon the brigands went into action and atrocious massacres were the result”

Mustafa Arif, Interior Minister of Turkey (1918-1919), in a Turkish newspaper interview in December 1918, stated:

“Unfortunately, our wartime leaders, imbued with a spirit of brigandage, carried out the law of deportation in a manner that could surpass the proclivities of the most bloodthirsty bandits. They decided to exterminate the Armenians, and they did exterminate them. This decision was taken by the Central Committee of the Young Turks and was implemented by the government”

Righteous Turks

Not all Turks were willing participants in the Genocide. Many righteous Turks and men of integrity saved their Armenian neighbours and friends from slaughter. Some Turkish officials, the governors of Marash and Aleppo for example, refused to carry out the central government’s orders to massacre the Armenians. For their disobedience, these governors and officials were dismissed from their posts and punished, others were even killed. The Armenian Genocide was not a religious conflict between Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks, even though religion was one of the tools used by the Young Turks to excite and galvanize the masses toward exterminating Armenians. The conflict, if it can be called that, was brought about because of the extremely nationalistic leaders’ ambitions of creating a new and expansionist Pan-Turkic Order.

If it were not for the Muslim Arabs in the Syrian Peninsula many Armenians would not have survived. In 1917 the Sharif of Mecca, Sharif Ali al Hussayn, issued a decree for the protection of Armenians. In his decree he stated:

“What is requested of you is to protect and to take good care of everyone from the Jacobite Armenian community living in your territories and frontiers and among your tribes; to help them in all of their affairs and defend them as you would defend yourselves, your properties and children, and provide everything they might need whether they are settled or moving from place to place, because they are the Protected People of the Muslims”

The “Malta Tribunals” and the Turkish Military Tribunal

On many occasions the Turkish government uses the so-called “Malta Tribunals”, to justify its assertion that the Allies did not find conclusive evidence to try Young Turk leaders for war crimes against the Armenians and thus released them. In fact, however, there were no “Malta Tribunals”. The British camp and affiliated residences in Malta were strictly detention centres, where the Turkish suspects were held for future prosecution on charges of crimes perpetrated against the Armenians. However, largely because of political expediency, the envisaged international trials never materialized. The victorious Allies, lapsing into dissension and mutual rivalries, chose instead to strike separate deals with the ascendant Ataturk. One such deal concerned the recovery of British subjects held hostage by Turkey who were to be released in exchange for the liberation of all Malta detainees. Commenting on this deal for the exchange, which he later deplored as “a great mistake”, British Foreign Affairs Minister Lord Curzon wrote: “The less we say about these people [the Turks detained at Malta] the better…I had to explain why we released the Turkish deportees from Malta skating over thin ice as quickly as I could. There would have been a row I think . . . the staunch belief among members [of Parliament is] that one British prisoner is worth a shipload of Turks, and so the exchange was excused.” It is, therefore, misleading to state that Turkish leaders were released because the British did not find evidence to convict them.

More importantly, and directly related to the issue of criminal intent, the Turkish Military Tribunal and courts martial (Nov 1918 – May 1919) formed by postwar Ottoman authorities to try the Ittihadist (Young Turk) leaders and cabinet ministers for war related crimes did in fact yield invaluable evidence, and enough proof, if any were needed, that led to the indictment of the Young Turk leadership. The key charge of premeditated mass murder organized by the Young Turks was fully substantiated. The tribunal cited “the massacres against the Armenians” in various parts of the Ottoman Empire. It found that these massacres were “organized and executed” by “the Ittihadist (Young Turk) leaders”, a fact which was “investigated and ascertained” by the tribunal. Among those convicted and sentenced to death were Interior Minister, later Grand Vizier, Talaat, and the two top military leaders, War Minister Enver Pasha, and Minister of the Navy and Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Fourth army, Jemal Pasha.

In its final verdict, published in the Official Gazette of the Ottoman Empire (Takvim-i-Vekayi), May 26, 1919, the tribunal concluded that “Members and leaders of the Ittihad ve Tereakki (Young Turks) Party in Istanbul and in the provinces were deeply involved in the activities of the “Teshkilat Mahsusa” (Special Organization). They used the Special Organization to carry out massacres, for setting buildings and corpses on fire, for destruction of villages, and dishonouring and torturing woman.

“. . . as is evident from the details of its correspondence, the Committee [Young Turks] had evolved and approved secret plans and special goals and had recourse to the imposition of tyrannical measures of very kind in order to have its programs accepted without exception . . . it is evident that the Committee pre-planned and organized all the crimes which were committed. So, the Committee ruled against Ottoman subject—individuals, communities and peoples without exception, in order to attain its goals . . .”

World Reaction

At the time of the Genocide, newspapers around the world were full of reports detailing what was happening to Armenians, among them the prestigious New York Times, which published more than 200 articles on the genocide between 1915 and 1917 alone. Canadian newspapers were no different. Within two days of the start of the genocide, on April 26, 1915, the Toronto Daily Star reported: “Terrible Tales of Armenian Slaughter—Ten Villages Wiped Out in Massacres by Mohamedans—Mothers Threw Their Babes in Rivers to Save Them From Death by Hunger.” The Nov. 29, 1915 issue of the Ottawa Journal headline reads “50,000 Armenians massacred by Turks—Saturnalia of Slaughter by Refined Methods as Young Turks Set Out to Wipe Armenian Race off the World.” “Threw 10,000 People into Sea to Perish—Turks Have Practically Wiped Out the Entire People of Armenia”, the October 7, 1915 issue of the Toronto Daily Star states. The Toronto Globe in its October 23, 1915 issue declared “Million Armenians Wiped out by Turkey—Only 200,000 Armenians Inhabitants of Turkey Now Remain in Country”. In addition to newspaper reports, there were thousands of American, German, Austrian, Danish, Italian, Norwegian, French, and British eyewitnesses, and countless documented reports by diplomats, military officers and missionaries.

Perhaps even more important in setting a future precedent for international law was the May 24, 1915 joint declaration by Great Britain, France and Russia in their public warning to Turkish leaders, which was also published on page one of the New York Times on May 24, 1915, “In view of those new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied governments announce publicly to the Sublime-Port that they will hold personally responsible [for] these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres”. The Armenian case was later cited during the Nuremberg trials 1945-46 as the basis for the emergence of the Nuremberg Law on Crimes Against Humanity by Sir Hartley Shawcross, the British Chief Prosecutor. It was also cited in the 1948 U N War Crimes Commission Report. In its preface to the Report it stated, “. . . the warning given to the Turkish Government on this occasion by the Governments of the Triple Entente dealt precisely with one of the types of acts which the modern term ‘crimes against humanity’ is intended to cover, namely, inhumane acts committed by a government against its own subjects”

At the end of the war and as a condition of its surrender, Turkey accepted its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide when it signed the Peace Treaty with Armenia and the Allied Powers on August 10, 1920. Articles 88, 89,141, 144, were included in the Treaty of Sevres to remedy the injustice done to the Armenian people as a result of the Turkish Government’s campaign of extermination and the Turkish Government’s obligations to redress the Armenian people’s grievances.

The Great Betrayal

During the next two years two key developments in the Middle East and the Caucasus were major factors in the Allies’ betrayal of the Armenian issue and the Armenian people’s quest for justice.

The discovery of oil (the Great Came) in the Middle East and in the Caspian Sea, and the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia emboldened Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, to renegotiate the Treaty of Sevres. The disunited and squabbling Allies, who were fighting among themselves to get access to the oil fields and to stop the spread of communism, yielded to Ataturk’s demands and signed the Lausanne Treaty in July 1923. According to the treaty the Armenian issue was scrapped and the Treaty of Sevres’ commitments to the Armenian people and the creation of an Armenian homeland were excluded from the Lausanne Treaty.

Denial

Since then, for the past 85 years, successive Turkish governments have denied the genocide. The Turkish government spends millions of dollars on public relations firms, hiring top-heavy international PR firms to distort the truth about the Armenian Genocide. It also organizes junkets—in the style of the old Soviet Union—for politicians and journalists to promote its distorted version of history. Furthermore, it establishes university chairs to influence scholars to deny the Genocide. The Turkish government in its propaganda campaign uses a battery of digressions, excuses, half-truths, and obfuscations in its arsenal of denial. Let’s examine some of these claims and outline the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide by using mainly Turkish, Austrian and German sources to expose the distortions of the Turkish government. As Turkey’s allies during WWI, Austria and Germany could hardly be accused of harbouring an anti-Turkish attitude.

The cornerstone of the Turkish government’s policy of denial is that whatever happened during WWI it was inter-communal violence and the result of Armenian rebellion. It was communal infighting if an organized attack by an empire’s army on an unarmed minority can be described as such. How could an unarmed Armenian population of mainly women, children and the elderly even contemplate an armed struggle against a majority population backed by a mighty empire, an ally of the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires? The consensus among German and Austrian officials who were in Turkey at the time was that there was no rebellion by the Armenian population. These documents survive and are available for all to see.

In a 72 page report to Berlin (September 18, 1916), German Ambassador Count Wolff Metternich wrote:

“There was neither a concerted general uprising nor was there a fully valid proof that such a synchronized uprising was planned or organized”

Describing the futile and spotty Armenian resistance, Dr. Max Erwin Scheubner-Richter (German vice-consul in Erzerum, in eastern Turkey), wrote in a dispatch dated December 6, 1916: “They [the Turkish leaders] were planning on fabricating, for the benefit of Allied Powers, an alleged revolution stirred up by the Dashnak [Armenian] party. They also planed to inflate the importance of isolated incidents and acts of self-defense by the Armenians and use it as an excuse to deport the targeted population which then would be massacred by escorting gendarmes and assorted gangs”

Vice-Marshall Joseph Pomiankowski, Austro-Hungary’s military plenipotentiary, who during the war was attached to Ottoman general headquarters, described the self-defense of the Armenians as follows: “The Van uprising certainly was an act of desperation. The local Armenians realized that the general butchery against the Armenians had started and that they would be the next victims”. Collapse of the Ottoman Empire (1928).

Chief among Turkish government’s distortions is the accusation that Armenians sided with the enemy–tsarist Russia. Hans Wangenheim, German Ambassador to Turkey stated: “It is obvious that the banishment of Armenians is due not solely to military considerations. Talaat Bey, the Minister of the Interior, has quite frankly said that the Turkish Government intended to make use of the World War and Deal thoroughly with its internal enemies. Turkey’s goal was to “resolve its Armenian Question by the destruction of the Armenian race”

In an Orwellian touch, Turkey calls the deportation of Armenians to the deserts of Syria as “relocation . . . for their protection, from dangerous areas.” perhaps Jews were also ‘relocated’ from Danzig to Dachau for their protection. An empire notorious for mistreating its minorities (Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Arabs, Jews, and Assyrians . . .) apparently decided to ‘protect’ Armenians and send women and children, without food and on foot, to the searing desert of Syria, to die of hunger and exposure.

If Turkish Government’s concern was to move Armenians from the war front, why were countless Armenians relocated from the hinterland, thousands of miles away from the war front?

The testimony of Ali Fuad Erden, the chief of staff of Jemal Pasha, the commander-in-chief of the Fourth Ottoman Army, debunked Turkey’s lame excuse when he wrote in his memoirs:

“There was neither preparation nor organization to shelter the hundreds of thousands of the deportees”

Wolfdieter Bihl, in his 1975 book, The Caucasus Policy of the Central Powers (Part I), unequivocally proves that the Turkish government’s relocation campaign was a ruse. He wrote: “. . . [The authorities] did not bother to deport the Armenians; rather, massacres were perpetrated on the spot. In a singular bloodlust, torture and slaughter were resorted to . . . these measures were not limited to the theatres of war but were extended to the Black Sea coast, Cilicia and Western Anatolia”

To confuse people and to muddy the issue, Turkey and its apologists say that more Turks died during WWI than Armenians. The two losses are not interrelated. Armenians had nothing to do with Turkish deaths. Turks had everything to do with Armenian deaths. The majority of Turkish losses was the direct result of armed warfare, which pitted one group of armed combatants against another. The Armenian losses were the result of a government-sponsored plan of extermination of an unarmed population. Even Turkey’s friends, such as Michael M. Gunter, rejects such comparisons: Mr. Gunter wrote:

“That even more Turks [than Armenians] also died during World War I is both true, but largely irrelevant to the argument here because most of the many Turkish deaths resulted from hostilities against the Allies, not the Armenians”

Judgment of Experts, historians et al

Hundreds of historians, scholars, Holocaust and genocide experts, and statesmen have studied the relevant facts related to the events of 1915-1917 and have concluded that the massacre of the Armenians constituted genocide. Indeed, every single independent panel of experts convened to review the facts of these events has also so concluded, including the 1985 Report on Genocide by the United Nations Sub-Commission under Benjamin Whitaker, and more recently in February 4, 2003, by the International Center for Transitional Justice in its legal analysis and finding.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel

Jurist Raphael Lemkin, who drafted the U N Convention on Genocide and coined the word “Genocide” in 1948, on many occasions cited the attempt to annihilate the Armenians as a clear case of genocide as defined by the U N Convention on Genocide. In his autobiography, Professor Lemkin wrote:

“I identified myself more and more with the suffering of the victim, whose numbers grew, as I continued my study of history. I understand that the function of memory is not only to register past events, but to stimulate human conscience. Soon contemporary examples of genocide followed, such as the slaughter of the Armenians in 1915”

Elsewhere in the book he says: “. . . A bold plan was formulated in my mind. This consisted [of] obtaining the ratification by Turkey [of the proposed UN Convention on Genocide. Ed] among the first twenty founding nations. This would be an atonement for [the] genocide of the Armenians”

Non-Armenian and non-partisan historians have verified the reality of the Armenian Genocide. The International Association of Genocide Scholars, an eminent body of scholars who study Genocide, at its 1997 convention, adopted a resolution unanimously reaffirming that, “The mass murder of over a million Armenians in Turkey in 1915 is a case of genocide which conforms to the statutes of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. It further condemns the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government and its official and unofficial agents and supporters”

On April 23, 1999, more than 150 distinguished scholars and writers (among them Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney, Wloe Soyinka and Derek Walcott, in addition to Deborah E. Lipstadt, Norman Mailer, Helen Fine, Robert Melson, Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Harold Pinter, Roger Smith, Daniel Goldhagen, Susan Sontag, William Styron, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates, Alfred Kazin, Grace Paley, D. M Thomas,) published a declaration in the Washington Post stating: “ We denounce as morally and intellectually corrupt the Turkish Government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.” They went on to ask governments around the world “to refer to the 1915 annihilation of the Armenians as genocide”

On June 9, 2000, 126 Holocaust scholars (among them Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Professor Yehuda Bauer, Professor Israel Charny, Professor Irving L. Horowitz, Professor Steven Jacobs, Professor Steven Katz, Dr. Elizabeth Maxwell, Professor Saul Mendlowitz, Professor Jack Needle, Professor Samuel Totten) published a statement in The New York Times: “. . . affirming that the World War I Armenian Genocide is an incontestable historical fact and accordingly urge the governments of Western democracies to likewise recognize as such”

Conclusion

The Turkish government’s policy of denial reminds one of Orson Welles’ hall of mirrors in “Lady From Shanghai”, where a single image is reflected ad infinitum, without adding anything new. No credible historian gives credence to the Turkish government’s propaganda and insistence on the same revisionist views. The historical reality of the Armenian Genocide is well documented. It is not what the “Armenians say” but what international historians, statesmen of repute, and genocide experts have said repeatedly. The Canadian Senate (June 2002), the House of Commons (April 2004), and the two largest provinces in Canada (Ontario and Quebec) have already recognized the Armenian Genocide.

The Canadian Armenian community does not bear any animosity towards the Canadian Turkish community. On the contrary, we sympathize with the Turkish people. They have been misled for too many years by their own government. We are confident that once the Turkish government halts its campaign of falsification of history and focuses on the genocide issue without hysteria and paranoia, the Turkish people will be able to acknowledge the misdeeds of their predecessors and extend a hand of friendship to the Armenian people.

In recent years many righteous Turks—particularly scholars and journalists—have spoken against their government’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.

In an interview with France’s L’Express (November 11, 2000), Halil Berktay, Professor of history at the University of Sabanci in Istanbul, said, “I believe that we must rid ourselves of the taboos that surround the events of 1915 . . . for decades we have been putting Turkish opinion to sleep with the same lullabies. Meanwhile, there are a ton of documents proving the sad reality: diplomatic reports and their personal notes, testimonies that went West from intermediaries from Christian schools established in the Ottoman Empire, photos . . . I even cried upon discovering certain clichés”. In a response to a question if the taboo of the Armenian question will fall in Turkey, Professor Berktay stated, “We will get there when we live in a free society. It is only under these conditions that we would be able to face the reality of the horrors of 1915”

Significantly, over 12,000 Turks, members of the German-Turkish Association Opposed to Genocide, signed a petition (December 2000) stating: “what we have learned at school [in Turkey] is a forgery of history”. They asked the Turkish Government to repent for the crime of Genocide which “we feel morally obliged to end their [Armenians] disillusions and agony”. Furthermore, the association asked for “international condemnation of the crimes committed against the Armenians, Assyrians and Pontian-Greeks”

The intention of reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide is to address the injustice that took place 90 years ago and to play a positive role in the healing process for survivors and their descendants. The reaffirmation by Turkey and its people is about joining the international community and sending a message to despotic regimes that the civilized world will not tolerate crimes against humanity, no matter when or where they happened. The reaffirmation is about condemning any attempt to rewrite history, and finally, it’s about learning from the mistakes of the past to prevent future genocides. The reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide is a moral and ethical imperative. We owe it not only to the victims and survivors of the Genocide but to all mankind.

Because of the Turkish Government’s refusal to face its dark past, the process of healing— so essential to international peace and harmony—has not even begun for Armenians. As genocide scholars have shown, the last act of genocide is denial of the crime, for it seeks “to rehabilitate the perpetrators and demonize the victims”

The denial of the Armenian Genocide is also an encouragement for the repetition of genocide, as it eventually did happen in the Ukraine, Germany, Cambodia and Rwanda. Yesterday Armenians, who tomorrow?

We should not allow Hitler’s contemptuous remark, “who remembers nowadays the Armenians?” to haunt us forever. What people of good will choose to forget, tyrants seldom do

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Andrew Telegdi photo by Jean-Marc Carisse 2005 056

HON Andrew Telegdi MP

Regarding The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Vol 15 # 1 2006

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms both defines and reflects the Canadian social, political and judicial reality and as such is what distinguishes us from the other nations in the world. It was formed as recognition of past injustices and serves as a guiding light for a better future. Finally, it provides a moral and legal basis to guide our democratic and legislative processes.

To quote from Prime Minister Chretien:

“There is one thing key in the life of a nation, it is to make sure the rights of the citizen are protected by the court in our land and not subject to the capricious elected”. KW Record May 18, 2000

Paul Martin echoed this sentiment when he said:

“I fundamentally believe that governments cannot discriminate on a question of rights”. Globe & Mail April 29, 2003

Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the Queen signed The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of the Constitution Act on April 17, 1982. It is ironic that twenty years after that historic event, as indicated in a Leger Marketing Poll, less than half of Canadians could mention even one of the human right and civil liberties that the Charter protects. This situation needs to be redressed.

I believe that at this time, we must put in place national institutions that will ensure that Canadians are educated regarding how the Charter protects their human rights and civil liberties, that ensure that the word and spirit of the Charter is a central guiding principle in drafting future legislation and that celebrate our rights and freedoms while we commemorate and atone for past injustices to specific ethnic or cultural groups that may want restitution. To these ends I propose:

The establishment of April 17th as a National Day of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to acknowledge and commemorate the acts of unjust discrimination perpetrated upon various Canadian ethnics, cultural and religious minorities, throughout our history by the enactment and enforcement of unjust citizenship, immigration and other policies

and

The establishment of a Hall of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with a view to : defining why the Charter was put in place, promoting an understanding among Canadians as to how the Charter operates to ensure that all members of our society have equal status and equal rights before the law and underlining the importance of the Charter in securing the civil liberties of all Canadians

Historical Backgrounder

The Aboriginal peoples were the first to populate Canada and thousands of years later Europeans from France and later the British Isles arrived.

Since Confederation, Canada has adapted its immigration policies to meet the changing needs of the nation. Canada’s early immigration policies reflected the concepts of racist stereotyping and racial superiority present in Canadian society at that time. Laws were enacted in order to maintain the Caucasian and Christian demographic of the country.

Prime examples of these discriminatory immigration policies -restricted through legislation – of certain ethnic groups, based on race, ethnic origin, religion etc are the Asian Exclusion Act – the infamous Chinese head tax of 1885 and the continuous-journey prohibition of 1906, meant to keep Indian nationals from entering the country. This dark period in our immigration history was marked by some shameful events. One occurred in 1914 when 376 East Indian immigrants were forcefully confined for two months aboard the liner the Komagata Maru as it lay off Vancouver harbour. The BC Supreme Court eventually upheld a federal exclusion order and the boat, escorted by a Canadian war ship, and was forced to sail back to Calcutta where arrival 29 passengers were shot and 20 eventually died.

Another event occurred during the Second World War when Canada actively restricted the entry of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and the informal, unspoken Canadian policy was “. . . none is too many”. In 1939, 907 Jewish refugees aboard the Liner St. Louis were denied entry. The boat was forced to return to Europe, where at least 240 of the passengers died in Nazi concentration camps.

The internment of thousands of innocent and loyal ethnic Japanese, German, Italian, Austro-Hungarians and Ukrainian Canadians during the World Wars, the forceful repatriation of thousands of Canadians of Japanese ancestry, half of them Canadian born, to a war devastated Japan were other significant manifestations of racism and discrimination by our government

The government directed immigration department resources to recruiting people from the countries of western and northern Europe and the USA.

Canadian immigration regulations were liberalized in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Canada accepted tens of thousands of Italians, Czechs, Hungarians, and other previously non-preferred European nationalities and people from Indo-China and immigrants and refugees from Third World countries. At that time the Immigration Act was amended cease discrimination on the basis of race or religion.

The increase in the ethnic mix of our nation and the growth of communication technology in the electronic news and entertainment media meant Canadians were more exposed to people of different racial, religious and cultural origins. This contact and the education it provided contributed to Canadian society entering a new era of inclusiveness. The government responded to these changes in social attitudes with the passing of a new Immigration Act in 1968. For the first time in our history a totally non-discriminatory, non-racist immigration policy with special concerns for family re-unification and refugees was enshrined in Canadian law.

Since 1990 Canada has, on a per capita basis, accepted more refugees than any country in the world. We have the highest acceptance rate of claimants as well, with 20,000 to 25,000 refugees receiving landed status each year. We are also one of only three nations that operate major resettlement programs. We also accept twice as many immigrants annually as any other country and offer financial support to thousands of immigrants to assist in their establishment in our society.

Our immigration policy will continue to strike a balance between our belief in justice and helping those in need, and our desire to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to maintain our way of life. The Canadian public supports a controlled, limited and voluntary immigration. We are concerned that those upon whom we bestow citizenship will be productive contributors to our nation. Canadians are a people of great racial, religious and ethnic diversity. We have come from all parts of the world. The cultural mosaic that has become our nation is and will continue to be our greatest strength. While the world continues to be a place filled with expressions of racial hatred and international conflict, we in Canada have learned to live in peace and harmony with each other and our neighbours. This may well be our proudest accomplishment. The establishment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 reflects both reflect our values of fairness and tolerance and supports the tolerance that distinguished our society by ensuring that the law and the government treated every Canadian equally. The new Millennium offers us the opportunity to continue as a world leader, promoting and supporting humanitarian and democratic causes. It also presents Canadians with the challenge to finally rid our society of the last vestiges of racism. The establishment of both a National Day and a Hall of the Canadian Charter Rights and Freedoms would serve this purpose well

Rationale

National Day of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter Day)

Citizenship and immigration policy in Canada, both before and after Confederation, is replete with acts of discrimination that have resulted at various times in the unjust disenfranchisement, incarceration, deportation, internment, crippling, lifelong psychological injury or loss of life of members of virtually every ethnic, racial and religious group in Canada.

To our credit, various provincial and federal governments in the past two or three decades have made an effort to redress the hardships these acts have inflicted on members of some of these groups.

The federal government has made redress to the Japanese Canadian community for the internments and loss of assets.

However, amends have not been made for the past injustices experienced by the members of many other groups. At this time both the Ukrainians and Chinese Canadians and their descendants who experienced injustice are demanding that they received special recognition and in some cases restitution, and this presents several problems for present government.

It brings up the thorny question: How do we acknowledge and make amends for past mistakes that have taken many forms, lasted for different durations, impacted on varying numbers of individuals in any particular group or were of greater or lesser severity in terms of personal or cultural suffering?

Another equally difficult question arises: To what extent are present day Canadians responsible, financially or otherwise, for acts such as the expulsion of the Acadians or the impact of the Durham Report that recommended the assimilation of French Canadians, which took place under jurisdictions that no longer exist or were perpetrated by Parliaments of Canada at a time that preceded the arrival of the ancestors of most present day Canadians?

In coming to a resolution to these questions, we must agree to base our actions on the following premises:

1. Recent governments did not pass the laws that caused this suffering

2. It is time that we, as a people, let go of our collective sense of guilt regarding acts for which very few – if any – of us living today are responsible

3. At the same time, we must never forget the injustices of the past, and therefore must ensure that it does not occur again

To this end we must be mindful to enact laws and establish institutions that serve to remind us of the dangers to democracy and to each and every one of us inherent in acts of prejudice and discrimination against those who are different.

We have an obligation as a just, fair-minded nation to acknowledge the impact of these acts on those affected and express our deepest, sincere regrets.

Those who forget the lessons of history are destined to repeat their mistakes

A National Day of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would be a time to heal old wounds, to remember and understand our errors of the past, to recognize the dangers inherent in fearing rather than celebrating our differences and perhaps most importantly it would be a day to bolster our sense of unity as a people.

It would be a day when Canadians from different cultures could share their stories, recount the hardships they experienced in the old country and the battles they have fought to make Canada their home, thereby creating mutual understanding among us in order to dispel the myths and the lies that breed discrimination. This is particularly true since 9/11 and the fears it has instilled.

As members of a fair and just society, one that prides itself as a beacon of liberty and freedom in a world, it is incumbent upon us to remember the unjust, discriminatory laws that inflicted untold suffering and hardships on loyal, innocent Canadians.

We must pay particular attention to the injustices and racist policies perpetrated upon the Aboriginal Peoples – the First Nations, a situation that sadly continues to this day, not forgetting the abuses to native children in the Residential Schools.

On Remembrance Day, we commemorate the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers in wartime to preserve our freedom. We do so, in part, to understand who we are as a people, remember those who gave so much so we could have what we do today and this bolsters the value of Canadian citizenship.

On Canada Day, we celebrate who we are today.

A National Day for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – on April 17th -coinciding with the date of the establishment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – would be a special day that celebrates our history and where we came from, while remembering the sacrifices and injustices experienced by our ancestor in creating this great country.

Hall of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into being on April 17, 1982, as part of the Constitution Act of Canada. This year we are proud to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this monumental achievement of our democracy.

The Charter was motivated by Canada’s desire to protect its citizenry from the possibility of a future government creating unjust laws, laws that discriminated against citizens because of their ethnicity, race or religion. It enshrined in law the rights of Canadians, rights that protect each and every one of us from being the subject of racism and discrimination. It gave every Canadian equal status and equal rights in our legal system. The Charter acts to protect us from re-experiencing the suffering and hardships inflicted on Canadians who were different.

It is extremely important that we understand our history. Many people immigrated to Canada from countries where neither their society nor government offered them protection, legal or otherwise, from the will of despotic rulers. They need to know that this is not how things work in Canada and that it is the Charter that makes this essential and important difference in their lives as Canadians.

Canadians believe that the Supreme Court and not Parliament should have the final say when the Court declares a law unconstitutional on the grounds that it conflicts with the Charter. This power of the Supreme Court, as enshrined in law, is an essential safeguard of our civil liberties. It is imperative that all Canadians understand how the Charter works to accomplish this goal. A recent poll that found that more than half of Canadians are unable to name any of the rights they are guaranteed under the Charter underlines the need for a venue to promote and educate Canadians about their rights and freedoms.

A Hall of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would serve to inform and educate new and old Canadians as to how the Charter works in securing our freedom and way of life. It would serve to reinforce our national identity as a people of great diversity, a nation made up of representing all races, religions and ethnicity, which live together in peace and harmony. As a counterpart to Charter Day, it would tell Canadians and visitors from around the world that Canada is not a nation that was founded on the principles of tolerance and fairness, but is a country that has learned the hard lessons of its history and evolved into such a nation

What the Tragedy of September 11, 2001 Taught Me

hesham-2004-jpeg

Hesham Sabry holds a BSc Engineering (1972), and a joint Honours Psychology-Anthropology, University of Waterloo

Vol 10 # 1, 2004

What the tragedy of September 11, 2001 taught me

PART I

EVIDENCE OF HISTORY

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Abstract:
It’s been three years since the horrifying events of September 11, 2001. The whole world is still experiencing its aftershocks with no end in sight. But on a more individual basis, soon after that fateful day many people began forming considerably different views of the world they live in than they had before. Personally, as a non-religious, secular Canadian of Egyptian-Muslim background, I changed my own perspectives on several fronts. In particular, my normally disinterested understanding of the relation between a religion’s teachings and the conduct of its followers turned into great curiosity.

For the first time ever I began to look at how certain aspects of a religion, any religion, influence its followers, either positively or negatively.

My main focus of interest was how a religion affected the way its followers treated the followers of other religions. After all, I never heard a preacher of any of the so-called great religions preach that all religions are equal, compared to how easily they usually preach that all races are equal, for example. The number of times I’ve heard certain televangelists insult Islam explicitly or implicitly, and extol the virtues of Christianity, putting it above all other faiths!

Whilst living in Egypt for nearly four decades, I never heard a Muslim preacher insult Christianity in any manner explicit or implicit. It would be totally condemnable and unacceptable, and we shall see why in Part Three of this series. But they also never, ever preached that all religions are equal. To them Islam was and is the final revelation of the God of Abraham, and therefore the religion all humanity ought to follow.

Since no amount of “tolerance” or compromise can bring a traditional clergy-man around to declare all religions equal, this obstacle still poisons global understanding to a great extent. Even from the days of ancient Egypt, Pharaohs chiselled temple walls to erase the images of gods of previous Pharaohs. They often even destroyed whole temples and all other signs of the previous gods whom they replaced with their own.

So when it comes to which god to worship, how, and through whom, each person’s religion is the one and only. In religion and gods we are not all equal, “we” are the best, whoever “we” is. Since that is the case with religion, then one of the most reliable ways to judge what any religion is truly like toward other human beings, is through its most difficult aspect, how it influences the way its followers treat those from other religions under diverse situations and circumstances.

But how do we assess a religion on that criterion, do we look at its teachings on that matter, do we look at what its holy books advise on it, do we look at the example of its prophets and their attitudes towards non-believers, or what? I guess the reader will already have formulated the obvious answer: we can realistically assess a religion on that matter only through the facts on the ground, the actual behaviour of the followers of a religion toward others.

In other words, no single issue – holy books, holy verses, life style of prophets – can be indicative of how a religion affects the conduct of its followers. It is the holistic effect of a religion as demonstrated by how its followers actually treat others that gives us a true picture of its workings. And one robust way to investigate that is through its history.

History provides an exhaustive, concrete written record of how diverse religious traditions treated others across the ages under various circumstances and situations, and across regions of the world. Such a record can give us a true picture of what a religion is all about in that respect. It would certainly tell us much more about the holistic nature of that religion than any amount of analysis of its teachings and holy books.

Once we establish how well or badly it performed on that point – how it treated those of other religions – then perhaps we could start searching its holy books, teachings, or whatever, for the possible reasons behind it. That would undoubtedly be the harder task.

The first part is basically reading the history of a religion across time and space. That is fairly straightforward and could be easily applied to any religion that has a written history. So the question then is how did Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other followers of religions of humanity fare in their treatment of followers of other faiths over the ages?

Focus on Islam

In looking for an answer to 9/11 in Islam, the focus of the western media was specifically on The Qur’an (aka The Koran) – the Islamic holy book – and particular “verses” in it, something I found trivial from the start. For one thing, I knew the answer lay in politics rather than religion. Second, I read the Old Testament in its entirety years ago and was horrified by what I read. But like most ancient books it did not surprise me, and it had no relation in my mind to what I expected of Jews, or how I viewed the Jews I knew or did not know. I had read little of the New Testament back then, but still there was enough in what I had read that was very unflattering. So religious texts were not where I believed the answer lay, if indeed we expected to find an answer in religion at all.

The debates I watched on American television, and analyses I read in the media after 9/11, rather than reasoned argument, were often full of hate and venom hurled at Islam. Every argument the haters made was easily refutable and served to open my eyes further as to how wrong they were. In fact, their arguments could be easily turned against them, and often applied to them alone rather than to Islam at all. Initially, just after 9/11, my interest – like everyone else’s – focussed on Islam. But watching such haters ply their hatemongering trade inevitably forced me into making comparisons with Christianity (and to a lesser extent, Judaism).

The revelations my search led me to regarding the three monotheistic religions – were staggering and sobering. However, in this analysis, I will focus mainly on Islam, with comparisons only where they are unavoidable. The data that eventually interested me the most and were the most revealing dealt with Islam and Muslims post the 9/11 tragedy up to this day. But that begs first investigating the history of Islam across the some 1300 years that came before those last three years.

Centuries of Evidence

One can simply begin by stating that across 1300 years of various Islamic empires, which at times stretched from one end of the Old World to the other, Christians and Jews lived under conditions that were rarely, if ever, enjoyed by minorities under the rule of others. Even the Ottoman Turks, known for their ruthlessness in war, did not try to eliminate Christianity in the Balkan nations they ruled for several centuries. The inhabitants of the region emerged from that extended period of Muslim rule as Christian as ever, their holy places, monasteries, churches and shrines intact and secure.

The Balkans

In that example, we see Christian peoples under four hundred years of absolute Islamic rule, when no NATO, no America, no power could have stopped Muslims from doing as they wished with their conquered subjects, and yet they never forced those Christian populations -which were totally at their mercy- to convert to Islam. Neither did they exterminate them nor ethnically cleanse them or even place them in concentration camps or relegate them to reservations. Any of those options they could have easily carried out with impunity back then, yet they never did any of that. That reality is not only in written records, but in the real live evidence of millions of thriving Balkan Christians.

If Islam truly commands its followers to kill all “infidel”, as Islam haters would have us believe, those lands would have all long been European Islamic nations today. Serbs would not be worrying at this time about their sacred monasteries being damaged during the Kosovo war, they would have long been razed to the ground, and they, the Serbs, long either exterminated or converted to Islam.

None of the Ottoman Islamic rulers, who came and went over the four hundred year period did that. That’s why Greeks, Macedonians, Serbs, Bulgarians and others remained Christian, alive and well after centuries living under absolute Islamic rule.

In four entire centuries, not just four decades, no Nazi-minded Islamic ruler happened along and butchered them all, forced them to leave, or even forced them to convert to Islam. Mind you, one cannot overemphasize the fact that this was all long before human rights declarations, Geneva conventions, United Nations organizations, NATO, American military might, or any of that. Some may argue that perhaps such admirable Islamic rule was just a fluke or only confined to that region, even for four hundred years, hard as that may be to imagine, while in other regions or other times, other Muslim rulers were massacring Christians and Jews, forcing them to convert, expelling them, etc., so let us explore further . . .

EGYPT

A quick look across the regions and ages where Islam ruled in the world will produce the exact same results. In Egypt, which was the seat of several Islamic empires during some 13 centuries of Islamic rule, there are now a reported eight to ten million Christians living there, the original descendants of the great ancient Egyptians. For well over one thousand years they were not exterminated, ethnically cleansed, or forced to convert to Islam by the many Islamic rulers that came and went there. They still thrive in Egypt today, where they now, quite rightly, demand a greater share in running the affairs of the country.

But had Islam, or The Qur’an, truly commanded Muslims to kill non-Muslims there wouldn’t have been one Christian or Jew left in Egypt by the 8th century, let alone millions of them in the 20thcentury. Christians in Egypt continued to live under Islamic rule across the centuries, century in century out, keeping their own churches and monasteries across the land,and worshipping in peace. They even maintained their own Egyptian Christian (Coptic) Pope.

There were some limited restrictions on them, as well as some conflicts of interest, where Christians had to follow certain Islamic rules, much like Muslims have to follow Canadian law, even if it conflicts with their own belief system.

And every once in a while a deviant ruler would come along and commit some wrongs against them, but never anything like extermination, ethnic cleansing or concentration camps such as some peoples have committed against others.

Not only that, but such aberrant rulers often practised their idiosyncrasies against all their subjects, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

So there we have the Balkans where some 400 years of Islamic rule left Christians in their millions thriving as Christians. And then we have Egypt where Islamic rule continued for over 1300 years, and yet the Christians there too emerged as Christians in their millions.

The same in Iraq, where Christians – the descendants of the Assyrians – and Jews lived under several great Islamic empires. Ditto, Lebanon and Syria whose Christian and Jewish populations are and were, respectively, sizable.

The Holy Land

But let’s look at a very significant region of the Islamic world which also remained under Islamic rule for centuries, and which had large numbers of Christians and Jews living all side by side with Muslims under Muslim rule in peace and harmony. The Holy Land.

In the Holy Land, despite the massacre of Muslims and Jews, and the desecration of mosques and synagogues by the Christian Crusaders when they took Jerusalem, when Muslims retook it, Christians and their holy sites were protected and revered, and continue that way to this day. Those holy sites and churches that so many Christian pilgrims from around the world visit nowadays are there, not thanks to NATO, America, or Israel, but thanks to the humanitarian, kind, merciful nature of Islam and its followers.

Think of it, for hundreds of years the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were under absolute Muslim rule. Those Muslims whom we are told are ordered to kill all “infidel”, those Muslims whom we so facilely call haters of infidels, protected those churches and many other Christian holy sites and let Christians (and Jews) in the Holy Land live in peace and security under their rule.

How many people know that to this day the key to the Church of the Nativity is held by a Muslim family, appointed by the many Christian denominations there because they could not agree on which one of them would hold that honour! Every morning the Muslim key-keeper opens the church doors for Christians to enter.

Christian and Jewish places of worship would have long been razed to the ground if indeed Islam commanded any such thing.

So Muslims are ordered to kill the infidel, are they really? Only a total racist, or a total ignoramus could take such ludicrous accusations seriously.

Hateful, bigoted individuals in the west, look at some bomb that exploded yesterday and explain it, not in terms of the complex recent political conflicts that led a few persons or groups to commit such violence, but in terms of the religion of those who committed the violence. How lowly is that? If anything, it reveals more about the accusers than about the religion they are trying to bash.

Spain’s Al Andalus
(Andalusia)

But for yet more evidence one can travel to the extreme western borders of Islamic empire, Spain. There, during the 400 to 800 years of Islamic rule in what is now Spain and Portugal, called back then by the Arabs, Al Andalus, not only did Jews and Christians live alongside Muslims in total harmony and prosperity, but Christians from the rest of Europe actually chose to flee their lands and go live under Islamic rule where they found they could enjoy more humane and just governance, and much greater enlightenment than under their own Christian-European rulers.

When Al Andalus finally fell to the Christian armies after 800 years – with few exceptions – prosperous, overwhelmingly unprejudiced Islamic rule, Muslims and Jews were persecuted and eventually forced to either convert to Christianity or leave (many were murdered even after they converted).

The same took place in what was then the formative stages of Portugal. Numerous Jews who fled The Inquisition took refuge in Muslim lands, right up to the seat of the Caliph, the supreme Muslim ruler of the Ottoman empire, in Constantinople (Istanbul).

There, along with Christian Armenians and other non-Muslim minorities, they often held high positions in the Islamic government.

The Islamic rulers could have simply done the compassionate, charitable thing and let them live there in peace and security under their protection, where they could worship as they please. But to go beyond that and actually appoint them to high positions in the Muslim ruler’s court, while they were still Christians and Jews, says a lot about Islam’s nature. And that was not in some aspiring multicultural society in modern times, where the rules of “democracy” or “affirmative action” demand or dictate that minorities be represented, that was at a time when minorities were being “Inquisitioned” in other lands.

The Indian Subcontinent

At the other end of the Islamic world we’ll find even more remarkable evidence. In the Indian subcontinent and surrounding region rose a good number of Islamic dynasties for hundreds of years, almost all of which were an example of tolerance and acceptance. Hindus who came under Islamic rule were generally not forced to convert, and indeed in some instances Islamic rulers actually adopted Hindu traditions and incorporated them within their own Islamic traditions.

In fact, the closeness of Muslim rulers in India to their Hindu subjects is demonstrated through one of the rare exceptions of a deviant Muslim ruler, the infamous Tamerlane (Timur Lank), who came from a Mongol tribe in Central Asia that had newly adopted Islam.

Tamerlane waged war on the Muslim rulers of India because he viewed them as being too integrated with Hindus. And as mentioned earlier, such aberrant Muslim leaders often carried out their wrongs against both non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

Tamerlane actually slaughtered tens of thousands, perhaps some two hundred thousand Muslims from India to Turkey over the years of his rampages in the region, in an expression of his own deranged mind.

When he went to punish the moderate progressive Muslim rulers of India (the bright and shining counterparts of Islamic rule in Spain and the Middle East), he destroyed their empires and razed their cities to the ground, including the city of Delhi, killing Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist alike. Naturally, there is no way one can attribute his conduct to Islam at all. He was a barbarian who sought any excuse to slaughter and massacre anyone and everyone, irrespective of religion!

Travelling the Muslim World

Still another significant reality. For centuries Christian explorers, travellers, and visitors have plied the Arab and Muslim lands in safety and security, finding assistance and hospitality from the people they met. Their stories fill the literature. At worst some may have been accosted by common bandits and thieves who exist in every land.

Many such visitors chose to live in Muslim lands for extended periods of time, doing archaeological work or exploring without coming to harm.

Western tourists have visited ancient archaeological ruins in the region for ages. We hardly ever heard or read that they were made to feel unwelcome or hated, nor that they were attacked by the populace or rejected in any manner. The historical record of foreigners in Muslim lands is a bright and shining one to this moment.

So there we have it. Jews, Christians and Hindus under absolute Islamic rule for hundreds of years and not exterminated anywhere, and Europeans welcomed in Muslim lands over the centuries.

That is compelling evidence that Islam never told Muslims to kill non-Muslims, no matter how hard we try to misinterpret or creatively interpret it. It is a lie and the proof is in 1300 years of pudding.

And once more, a reminder that what makes the above Islamic record all the more remarkable is that it took place long before human rights conventions, United Nations resolutions, international law, NATO, or what have you.

The kind of belief system Muslims follow was evidently way ahead of its times in human rights, compassion and mercy toward others, which is what brought about such spectacularly kind Islamic nations and peoples across the ages.

Exceptions Prove the Rule

Unquestionably, as mentioned earlier there were the exceptions here and there across the centuries, when wrongs were committed by deviant Islamic rulers somewhere or the other against Christians, Jews, or others.

In modern times, while Iran officially recognizes Christianity, Judaism, and even Zoroastrianism as official religions in the Islamic state, it does not extend that acceptance to yet another religion – Baha’ism – because it is a recent religion which its followers believe was inspired by God in an Iranian-Muslim, and as such implies apostasy. Based on that, Iran, and other Muslim nations, severely persecute Baha’is and often deny them human rights, something totally unacceptable.

But we have to look at the overall trend across variables such as time, geographical regions, Islamic leaders, different Islamic empires etc. as a whole, not generalise from the particular deeds of some deviant character here or there, or some very specific events that led to specific atrocities somewhere, sometime in 1300 years.

In 13 centuries, across such a large swath of the globe and so many empires and rulers, cultures, lands and peoples, the rarity of those exceptions, if anything, proves the rule.

Indeed, the only balanced method to assess how a religion treats those who are different is by looking at it longitudinally across time and space. We cannot look at one or two years, one or two rulers, one or two wars, or one or two regions selectively and in isolation, and then draw conclusions. We have to look at all the available evidence and data if we are to reach intellectually and academically acceptable general conclusions.

For Islam and Muslims – across time, Islamic rulers, empires, situations, geographical regions and cultures – the evidence of history unequivocally points to a compassionate, humane, gentle, charitable religion beyond what human rights conventions prescribed centuries later, a religion accepting of non-Muslims far beyond the simple tolerance much touted in our western societies nowadays.

We shall investigate how and what in Islam instills such values and attitudes in Muslims in Part Three. But next time we will look at the evidence of the past three years, post 9/11.

PART II

RECONCILING PAST WITH PRESENT

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In Part I of this series we took a brief look at Islam and Muslims in history where we saw quite clearly that Islam does not in any way instruct Muslims to kill non-Muslims. We saw through indisputable, well-documented, overwhelming evidence the extent of the fallacy of that accusation. With a few very specific, well defined exceptions, non-Muslims across history have fared extremely well under Muslim rule. That reality is even more significant when it is viewed within the context of what was happening in other regions of the world.

So the question we’re left with then is ‘How do we reconcile such a remarkably praiseworthy history with the violence we now see committed by “Muslims”, often, it’s claimed, spurred on by their religion, Islam’?

The Muslims I knew

Before 9/11, most of what I really knew of Islam and Muslims was from my life in Egypt. My siblings and I weren’t given much of a religious upbringing at home, so I never really practised Islam beyond following some rituals at an early age. Aside from Muslims, the actual community I lived in had large numbers of Jews and Christians, many of whom were close, very close, or best friends. They all profoundly and positively (I hope) influenced my own character and played a major role in my outlook on life. But the society at large in Egypt was, of course, predominantly Muslim. My interactions at stores, schools, sports, and, later, at work and business were mostly with Muslims.

From what I experienced in my daily life, those Muslims were exceptionally kind, compassionate, decent people, whom I honestly couldn’t even aspire to emulate. As a young man, I was wildly independent, practically a hippie who cared nothing for tradition or religion, even though the society I lived in was very conservative. But that didn’t mean I was blind to the surrounding culture and its dynamics.

As I grew older I went from merely admiring Muslim society to puzzling over its exceptional qualities. It eventually dawned upon me that what made those people what they are had to be their faith. Though it was an eye-opening conclusion, my interest in Islam remained limited to respect for it and its followers.

So naturally, once I came to Canada as a landed business immigrant, the affairs of Islam and Muslims were the last thing on my mind. Very soon, however, Islam and the affairs of Muslims became more prominent in my life than they had ever been before in my 38 years of life in an Islamic nation!

Canada: Hate I had never experienced before

That transformation came as a result of the numerous occasions on which Muslims or Islam were bashed and derided for no justifiable reason by some media outlet or other. Such attacks happened as a matter of course, part of the regular routine of some media. It confused me at first as I tried to figure out what was going on. Then the confusion increasingly turned into pain as I saw that it was a gratuitous hate campaign deliberately intended to vilify Muslims and Islam as well as Arabs. That was in the 1980s, long before September 11, 2001. And then I learned it had been going on for almost two decades already.

For the first time in my life I was experiencing the pain of indiscriminate racist hate as someone of Muslim-Arab descent — the community wantonly targeted by what appeared to be bigoted media.

But the greater the hate and prejudice Muslims were subjected to in North America, the more came to mind their true decent, good nature, which in the past I had taken for granted as a fact of life in Egypt, and later, of Canadian-Muslims as well.

Beyond 13 centuries of history: Three more years of evidence across the globe

Then came September 11th, 2001, or 9/11 as it became known, the attack on the United States of America by members of al Qaeda, the organization — led by Osama bin Laden — that came into being as a result of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

Though it was very clear that the 9/11 attack was political, it was immediately portrayed as a factor of the Islamic religion. The emphasis was on the perpetrators as Muslim men, and Islam as the source of their violent act. And so it seemed fit that one should take a deeper look into the people and the religion one had taken for granted for so long.

Like most everyone else, following the attack I had the same feelings of outrage and sadness for the hundreds of innocent victims. But on top of that, I dreaded what might happen next. Not to me as an Arab-Canadian of Muslim background, though that too was on my mind, but as to how Muslims worldwide would respond to bin Laden’s call to kill Americans everywhere.

Where Egypt was concerned I really didn’t expect any grass roots response of the kind bin Laden hoped to arouse, for I knew its people very well. The idea of getting up and randomly killing an innocent person in the street because of his race, nationality or faith on the urging of some guy pretending to speak for Muslims was unthinkable. Egyptians in general — Muslim and Christian –loved westerners, and for many generations have welcomed them with great warmth and hospitality, except, as would be expected, when they came as invaders.

I had great hopes that Muslims in other Muslim nations would generally be the same as in Egypt. After all, I had never heard anything that would make me believe otherwise. Quite to the contrary, from what I had read they were as welcoming and friendly towards westerners as Egyptians were. Still, I really didn’t know enough about the people of some 55 diverse Muslim nations, spread across a wide geographical swath of the globe, let alone the Muslim diaspora, to even make an educated guess on that question.

An experiment of global proportions

At that early time, after the attack and bin Laden’s call, one didn’t realise quite clearly yet that the world was embarking on the ultimate empirical research setup, carried out under realistic conditions — as unfortunate as they were — of truly global proportions and ramifications.

It was the largest ever random experimental test of hundreds of millions of subjects. On a global scale, it cut across variables such as peoples, nationalities, languages, cultures, customs, races, and ethnic groups under the most intense circumstances imaginable. Indeed, the only constant among them was “religion”, Islam.

How many millions out of the 1200 million Muslims worldwide would answer bin Laden’s call? Or how many hundreds of thousands? How many average Muslim ‘Joes’ would misguidedly feel it their duty to attack the first American they met on the street in answer to bin Laden? How many of them didn’t know enough of the teachings of their religion to believe the false claims of that man?

I feared it was only logical to expect that of 1.2 billion Muslims there would certainly be more than enough individuals who would ignorantly believe bin Laden’s twisted interpretation of Islam and rush to answer his call. After all, they may feel that God was on bin Laden’s side, given He had allowed him to deal the greatest power on Earth such a severe blow!

If my fears were warranted and statistical probability applicable, thousands of Americans working or travelling all over Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and the Arab World would be attacked, assaulted and perhaps even killed. I desperately hoped against hope that it wouldn’t happen.

Time is my witness

Incredibly, against all odds and defying statistical probability, the days passed by and there wasn’t one spontaneous attack on any American anywhere. Not one, let alone the millions or even the thousands I feared! That was quite astounding, so astounding it doesn’t fail to deeply impress me to this day.

Ordinary Muslims did not pick up guns, clubs, knives or axes and shoot or hack the first American they came across. And we would have certainly heard if thousands, hundreds or even only tens of Americans and other westerners were being hacked to death across the globe. There was none of that at all. Muslims had absolutely rejected bin Laden.

Still, in disbelief, I thought it may be the calm before the storm. But the weeks passed, and then the months, and more calls by bin Laden came and went, and still not one ordinary Muslim soul, let alone millions, thousands, or hundreds, spontaneously attacked Americans anywhere.

After the invasion of Afghanistan there were organized attacks directly related to that invasion, such as those in Pakistan, where most Taliban and Al Qaeda had fled. Or by organizations associated with al Qaeda in response to the presence of American forces in the Gulf region, escalating Palestinian suffering, and later the invasion of Iraq, all clearly identifiable circumstances, and practically all committed by politically motivated radical groups.

(Since it’s off topic, on another occasion we’ll have a look at the roots of terrorism, a number of examples involving “Muslims”, as well as a brief comparative analysis of international terror by non-Muslims. We’ll also address the claim that Al Qaeda does what it does in the name of Islam)

Sharing ’causes’ not ‘means’: Osama bin Laden and George Bush

What such astounding results told me was that Muslims may share bin Laden’s anger over injustices suffered by Muslims in the world, but, as they have proved with great clarity and certainty, they do not agree with his violent methods. It’s somewhat like President George W. Bush sharing the views and the cause of anti-abortionists, but not the terrorism in which some of them engage. Or as another example, most Americans sharing Mr. Bush’s concerns over America’s security, but only a minority the warring ways he uses to provide it.

Bin Laden snubbed

Muslims everywhere have repeatedly ignored bin Laden. In fact, out of humiliation and rather than embarrass himself further, he has lately given up calling upon Muslims to attack Americans and Jews. His calls are now personal pleas to the American people, or threats to the Saudi monarchy, and the such. He no longer appeals to Muslims anywhere to rise and kill anyone; he has been unambiguously rejected and snubbed enough times.

A mere few months after the 9/11 attack, during the 2002 annual “haj” — the pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca — I watched Muslim pilgrims interviewed in Arabia by western media about how much weight bin Laden’s calls had with them. They invariably brushed him aside, saying they did what Islam teaches, or what their conscience as Muslims dictates, not what bin Laden tells them to do. The emphatic disdain with which they referred to bin Laden as a Muslim of no credibility was most refreshing to witness.

Muslims feel ashamed

Far from answering bin Laden’s calls, Muslims have felt ashamed of what bin Laden did. And though they themselves had not committed any crime to feel guilty about, they still felt shame and guilt that someone calling himself a Muslim had done it. Rather than get up and kill Americans, as bin Laden hoped they would, they were deeply embarrassed by the association of Islam with the killing of innocent people. Their almost universal response, as seen by their actions, was to reject bin Laden’s calls for more violence.

No matter how much the average Muslim may be angry at America (just as many non-Muslims, including Europeans and Canadians also are) for its support of injustice against the Palestinians and other similar issues, Muslims do not condone random violence. The hundreds of millions of average Muslims of the world did not act out that anger by killing Americans, Jews, or anyone else.

On the contrary, they — the average, law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims — innocent of such crimes, became themselves the targets of vicious persecution, discrimination and hate crimes, which they still bear in silent pain.

As for the very few who did rejoice about 9/11, they are themselves victims of unjust American foreign policy, which for some of them makes almost everyday a 9/11.

Saudi Arabia and Americans

To this moment, tens of thousands of Americans, Canadians, Britons and other westerners live and work in Saudi Arabia, where for decades they have enjoyed traditional Arab hospitality. And that’s Saudi Arabia, the bastion of so-called Islamic fundamentalism, where we are told the hate for America is supposedly strongest. Or in other words, the worst case scenario. Yet neither before nor after bin Laden’s call were any of them attacked by Saudis.

There have been attacks, but on American military personnel and barracks. And since the Iraq invasion, on nonmilitary targets, but only because of America’s invasion of a neighbouring Arab country, Iraq. Conditions of military conflict create a whole new set of factors which replace everything in the original equation. Yet, even now, after the recent hostilities, Americans and other westerners who live there are reluctant to leave, describing the Saudis as very friendly and warm toward them.

I should add, sadly, that the deeply flawed American foreign policy is increasingly seeing to it that all that good-will evaporate. If attacks on Americans ever reach the grass-roots level in the Muslim world, it won’t be due to bin Laden — who has given up rallying the Muslim peoples’ support for his violence, but thanks to the imbalanced way America has handled its foreign policy.

Violence is triggered by problems

What demonstrates that violence develops where precipitating conditions exist, and not simply because two groups — religions, races etc. — are differently labelled, is that much of the violence in the world has been and still is between groups that sometimes share not only religion, but also race and even nationality. The American civil war, for example, was Christian on Christian, white on white, and American on American! And it was atrocities galore as well.

But we don’t need history to find examples, they abound in the world today even as I write. We see Christian kill Christian, Hindu kill Hindu; Buddhist, Buddhist; Jew, Jew; Muslim, Muslim; and Sikh, Sikh, just as we see those same groups attack one another if there are causes for armed conflict between them.

It’s also as telling that where the conditions that bring about conflict don’t exist, people of different religions, races, nationalities, live in peace and harmony, regardless of how different their religious practices, their skin colours, their languages, and so on.

So it’s fundamentally wrong to reduce complex issues into simplistic “that race or that religion is all bad”, or “the other one all good”, or that this or that conflict exists because one group is Muslim and the other Jewish, or what have you.

Terror and violence in Canada

Though we will deal with the whole Canadian scene in more detail on another occasion, we should note that in Canada we have had various instances of mass violence and terror. We’ve had the very serious Quebec separatist terrorism, the just as serious Sikh terrorism (the Air India bombing; the assassination of prominent Canadian-Sikhs), eco- and environmental terrorism (a range of cases), anti-abortion terrorism, and others. That’s aside from a long list of mass murders against fellow university students — such as in Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, university faculty colleagues, school class mates, co-workers, competing drug gangs, and on and on. Interestingly, or more to the point, very significantly, none of the above terrorism or mass murder cases was committed by any of the 600,000 Muslim-Canadians. NONE!

The Muslim man of the street

Throughout the globe, Muslims, like any other people in the world, have shown that unless it is a case of revolt against oppression, injustice, occupation or the such, they do not engage in randomly attacking or killing anyone, not if bin Laden shouted himself hoarse.

So once a few weeks had passed after bin Laden’s call for attacks on Americans and Jews, one would have been hard-pressed attributing any attack that did take place to bin Laden’s call. In any case, such attacks didn’t happen.

Organized terrorist attacks are one thing and a popular uprising by the man in the street attacking any American he comes across is another thing altogether. This, Muslim man of the street, was the target of bin Laden’s appeals, but this too is the person who after all knows his God and the core teachings of his religion well. He is not a killer.

And yet how easy to kill

In America legal and illegal guns are very easy to get a hold of if anyone is intent on committing mass murder. Now there you have some six million Muslims in America, and yet where are all those American-Muslims committing such mass murders in answer to bin Laden? Could it be they’re afraid of the FBI, the CIA, or the “sheriff” ? We know very well suicide killers are prepared to die along with their victims. In fact, even the Columbine School killers, among many other American mass murderers, took their own lives; it isn’t a new concept to America. So why didn’t tens of American-Muslims carry out waves of such easy and unstoppable crimes in all the years since 9/11 no matter how many times bin Laden called upon them to do so? Even those blinded by their own racism and hate of Muslims should begin to see the light here.

Incidentally, the 19 attackers of 9/11 were all foreigners, holders of temporary visas. Not one of them was an American-Muslim, or have a wife or children in America! These were brain-washed individuals sent to carry out a specific mission. To paint all Muslims with the same brush as some obvious criminals is flagrantly prejudiced.

Exposing the haters, bigots and racists

We will address in a coming issue of Cross Cultures events and questions concerning American-Muslims specifically. But it is tedious to the extreme to have to waste so much time and space explaining and analyzing every single elementary issue just to counter the effect of biased politicians, writers, academics, and media who are out to deliberately smear Islam and Muslims. But it can’t be helped; tedious or not, they need to be challenged if we are to avoid the clash of civilizations they are out to manufacture.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others live in real peace and harmony in their masses wherever there is no political or other strife. Why instill hate where it doesn’t exist? I do not hold any ill-feelings toward anyone. I enjoy interacting with people from all cultures, races and religions, and my perception is that the feeling is mutual. One constantly finds a sincere desire out there by ordinary people of every race and faith to live and let live, to coexist, and to enjoy each others’ cultures, wouldn’t you agree?

Indeed, one finds there is wonderful peace and harmony wherever the haters haven’t managed yet to drive their wedges between communities. Why destroy that beautiful state of affairs with deliberate efforts to alienate, marginalize, divide, vilify?

So to ignore the haters is to lend credence to their hate, which means allowing it to spread and ultimately destroy the peace and harmony we enjoy.

I’d rather be mountain-biking or skiing

I am fully secularized, verging on atheism, and I have no interest in organized religion at all.

But when the religion of the good people from whom one originated is hammered day in day out, all unfairly and often maliciously, and the general peace and harmony of society are threatened, one finally says enough is enough. It’s not that I enjoy sitting here exposing and challenging hate. But at least if one challenges such hate, the good Christian, Jewish, Hindu and other good people who are willing to learn and act upon the facts would be given the chance to know what the facts are.

Indeed, if it wasn’t for the gratuitous hate – concentrated mostly in the media – that I experienced from the day I landed in Canada, I wouldn’t be sitting here today between four walls writing this. I’d be out enjoying this beautiful, wonderful country, and any of its outdoor activities I love so much. But the haters have imposed their will on us all, and risk to ruin the stability and peace of this gentle nation.

A competition of religions

Interestingly, some of those with anti-Islamic agendas view religions only as competing parties in some global contest to win over converts or to boast greater numbers of adherents. Any effort by people such as myself to educate others about the true nature of Islam and Muslims is taken by them as a challenge in their trivial competition. It isn’t important to them that we learn about each other so that we can all get along, what’s important to them is to put and keep Islam and Muslims down.

It is fine to proselytize and evangelise, but it isn’t fine to promote hate against one’s perceived competitors. When they read anything positive about the peaceful nature of Muslims their only concern is to twist and manipulate it in order to maintain the prevailing negative view of Islam. Rather than promote peace and love, which the good Bible preaches and good Christians follow, they warn whomever will listen to them to beware of people who write or say positive things about Islam!

Achieving the goals of peace and harmony through better understanding is of no concern to them. The focus of their life is vilifying Islam and marginalizing anyone who does otherwise.

A recent case in point is that of a visiting academic who spoke in such hateful terms at a university college in the city of Waterloo, Ontario, under the guise of searching for solutions to multi-ethnic religious problems. His type are reluctant to give up the kind of hate propaganda that is used precisely to promote one religion at the expense of another. So although such hateful academics pretend to be scholars, they stand accused of hate and bigotry themselves. It’s very sad indeed.

A great past and turbulent present reconciled

So the answer to our initial question — how does one reconcile the present perception of a violent Islam with its wonderful past — is simple. It’s just that, a perception. A perception created primarily by a media focussed on sensationalising and amplifying the negative image of a few Muslims, while practically ignoring the overwhelming positive of their multitudes. The media rarely, if ever, show Americans, Britons, Canadians living peacefully among their Muslim hosts. Yet there are tens of thousands of them in the Muslim world this instant working, living, visiting with Muslims and enjoying their hospitality and friendship.

It does prove that whether it’s Muslims in America or Canada, or Americans and Canadians in Muslim nations, good people of all faiths can and do get along and even enjoy life among each other when they’re given the chance and no one drives wedges between them.

The hateful media revisited

So, in essence, due to seriously biased media and others, some of us are unable to discern the “truth” about Muslims and Islam. Yet the ‘truth’ of the present events is as easy to verify as the written history we briefly reviewed in Part I. It’s not something I’m fabricating or forcing upon anyone. It’s an open book of recorded events out there for anyone to inspect and verify.

All we need to do is look for what is conspicuous by its absence in the media, not at what is made conspicuous by the media’s sensationalism. What is absent in the media is precisely what we have briefly reviewed above. The media focus on the negative few hundred and practically ignore the positive hundreds of millions.

But it does appear that many Europeans and Americans strive to search for the truth, elusive as it is, given the mostly biased sources of information available to them. Many others also appear to prefer to err on the side of caution than to wrong people based on information they are not one hundred percent confident of. That is truly refreshing and heart warming.

In Canada, such fair and considerate thinking is even more prevalent. Canada is undoubtedly undergoing the growing pains that come with the introduction of a large number of new cultures and faiths into it. But it’s doing it very graciously despite the incessant attempts at sabotaging that process by ill-willed, and in some cases, almost treasonous media and special interest organizations (we’ll look at that in more detail another time).

The future of Canada’s peace and harmony rests very much on the shoulders of the media. Hate and bigotry are propagated primarily through the media, as are love, peace and understanding. So, which will it be — love or hate — that those who are still hateful in the media will promote in the coming years?

What is the Muslims’ secret?

In conclusion, there we have Muslims in their hundreds of millions, across geographical divides from Morocco to Indonesia, from Britain to China, across languages, cultures, races and ethnicities, rejecting the violence that their religion forbids.

What a relief. But also how intriguing. Statistically speaking alone, it is mind-boggling. In the midst of severely adverse conditions of injustice and suffering we find such a universal rejection of random violence by over one billion Muslim people.

That stunning reality brings us to the moment of truth. What do those 1200 million Muslims, who live all over the globe, have in common that prevented them, as if in concert, from doing any such wrong? They are Asian, Arab, Chinese, African, English, Canadian, Australian, French, Swedish, American, so diverse yet so united in their rejection of bin Laden.

The obvious answer is their faith, Islam. The only thing shared by those otherwise vastly diverse peoples is in fact the very religion that was being investigated as violent, Islam. What an absolutely fascinating revelation. If anything, considering the widespread injustices they are suffering at the hands of non-Muslims, it appears that Islam actually has a moderating and tempering effect on Muslims rather than the reverse.

What was being looked upon as the common evil they shared was gradually revealing itself to be the common good they shared. What’s more, it fits handsomely with the history of Islam, which we briefly reviewed in Part One. Muslims never answered bin Laden’s call because it fully contradicts Islamic teachings, the same reason they did not kill Christians, Jews or others in the past. Bin Laden wasn’t representing Islam, he was misrepresenting Islam and exploiting it to brain wash recruits into committing his abominable crimes. The only thing he had going for him was political: Standing up to America, a nation viewed — rightly or wrongly — as supporting and exporting injustice.

That is not to say that Islam doesn’t suffer from some real problems. In a coming issue we will have a look at the most, if not the only, truly serious problem that ails Islam. It’s the major reason Muslim nations fail to modernize, democratize and move ahead, and it will continue to hinder their progress for ever if it isn’t seriously addressed.

I will leave naming that problem to the time we discuss it. But for now, suffice it to say it has nothing to do with the nonsensical accusation of terrorism made by the west. Islam clearly condemns terrorism as the evidence of history and the actual conduct of 1.2 billion Muslims has shown.

Next time, however, we will take a look at what made Muslims the good people they are toward non-Muslims and overwhelmingly accepting of other faiths throughout their history. The answer lies in one of the very foundations of Islam, one that gave it properties unique to it among the three ancient monotheistic religions.

From Part 3:
“Lately, Rev. Richard Cizik, vice-president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals in America spoke out against other evangelists, saying conservative Protestants should tone down their hate attacks against Islam, and the demonization of Muslims, which they’ve been engaged in for the past while. When asked if he believed that Muslims worshipped the same God as Christians and Jews, he replied that he did not. Well he said a mouthful”

Remembering the Past

Barbara Pressman has been an individual couple and family therapist in private practice, and for many years the president of the Waterloo Region Holocaust Education Committee

Remembering the Past
Vol 9 2000

Since 1989, the Waterloo County Holocaust Education Committee has organized a yearly spring seminar for high school students. At this seminar, keynote speakers have included Holocaust survivors; a soldier who had helped liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp; actors, depicting through drama, the suffering generated by discrimination; and an internet expert exposing the racist hatred disseminated by this media. The thrust of these programs through the experience of the Holocaust is always to foster awareness of the enormous pain and destruction caused by discrimination and prejudice. Holocaust is the chosen series of events because it is the best documented example of the pernicious outcomes of socially and culturally endorsed racism.

There are some who question the insistence on keeping alive the memory of events of a most hideous and perverse nature. The answer is quite simple: we must study the most troublesome and ignoble events of the past not to bring shame or dishonour on those who carried out these events and supported them, but in order that we learn from the mistakes of the past and not repeat them in the future. Therefore, we must study not only the events of the Holocaust but also our own history. Every student must learn of the apartheid of Black Canadians practiced in our own country. In addition to the racism practiced in housing and employment, Black Canadians were frequently denied full use of provincial educational facilities, restaurants and movie houses. Segregated instruction was legalized in Canada in1849 by a statute that authorized municipal councils to establish separate schools for black Canadians.

Throughout the years of segregated schooling, the separate education afforded black students was inferior to that provided to white students. Though black schools began to disappear after 1910, not until 1965 did the last black school in Ontario actually close.

No one should be allowed to leave school without learning about the attempt to destroy First Nation people in this country: their culture, religion, language and way of life occurred through forced removal of native children to residential schools where the curriculum disregarded First Nation culture, values, history, religion and customs. To ensure parental cooperation in sending beloved children to schools very far from native lands, parents were threatened with imprisonment. In the residential schools, children were beaten for speaking their native languages, depersonalized by uniforms, and forbidden to see their parents except under strict regulation.

No one should be allowed to leave school without having learned that during World War II, not only were Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and political dissidents persecuted and murdered by the Nazi regime in Germany, but also here, in Canada, the Canadian government persecuted Japanese-Canadians.

Although at war with Italy, Germany and Japan, only the Japanese-Canadians, a non-white people, were forced from their homes and placed in internment prison camps. While the white German and Italian Canadians were spared this racist discrimination and degradation.

We must study such horrific events, not to shame the people who enacted the laws and those who supported these policies. It is to learn how democratic societies can and do enact unjust, unethical or patently racist laws on the basis of the completely erroneous belief that minorities, people of colour, and those “different” from the mainstream are inferior; and therefore, it is permissible to treat them as less than real humans.

Not only do the Holocaust Education seminars focus on the monstrous outcomes of racism, but also on how each individual has the responsibility and the power to challenge and ultimately put an end to racism. When the majority acts unjustly to others because those others have a different colour skin or different religion or different sexual orientation, it is facile and self-serving to ask “What could I do? To oppose would mean I too would be in danger”, it is also self-serving to avoid responsibility to one’s brother and sister human beings by declaring, “I was forced”

When faced with the immoral actions of the majority, each one of us is being asked to make this moral choice:

“Do I hurt others because everyone else is doing it?

This was the choice of the father of the Holocaust Seminar speaker of May 2000. Faced with the choice of standing by while thousands of Jews were destined for brutalization and murder or jeopardizing his own safety, his own life, and the lives of his wife and children, Japanese consul to Lithuania during the Nazi era, Chiune Sugihara made the moral choice not to participate in the suffering of others by standing by and doing nothing.

Mr Kiroki Sugihara (son of Japanese consul to Lithuania in 1940, Mr Chiune Sugihara) during his visit to Waterloo in 2000
Mr Kiroki Sugihara (son of Japanese consul to Lithuania in 1940, Mr Chiune Sugihara) during his visit to Waterloo in 2000

In 1940, Jews living in Lithuania were to be deported to concentration camps. Although a Japanese-German alliance was being forged, Chiune Sugihara sought permission from his government in Japan to issue visas to Jews for destination to Japan or Japanese controlled lands. This permission was never granted. Despite the enormous danger to himself and to his family, in defying government decisions and disobeying his government’s policies and the Nazi regime, Mr. Sugihara issued thousands of exit visas to Jews and consequently saved them from certain death.

Upon returning to Japan, he lost his consular position and suffered profound hardship before again finding work that would sustain his family. His son, Hiroki, was witness to his father’s feverish efforts and relayed the events of this period in a compelling, moving presentation of selfless humanity.

Despite the hardships Chiune Sugihara suffered in consequence of his act of compassion, his belief in the rightness of his decision was never shaken. Throughout his life, he never regretted his actions to support and protect the Jews.

Professor Oscar Cole-Arnal and Mrs Barbara Pressman in the forefront, among the audience who were captivated by Mr Hiroki Sugihara's presentation after showing the movie recently produced of his father's war-time efforts in Lithuania
Professor Oscar Cole-Arnal and Mrs Barbara Pressman in the forefront, among the audience who were captivated by Mr Hiroki Sugihara’s presentation after showing the movie recently produced of his father’s war-time efforts in Lithuania

In the Nazi era when humanity seemed suspended, an individual like Chiune Sugihara is a monument to the human courage and regard for others which transcends one’s own fears and need for safety. His memory is a model for future generations

Famous 5 Women in Canadian History

Lee Bryant has resided in Waterloo for 21 years. She is author of three books, Counsellor, Therapist and Teacher

famous 5

Famous 5 Women in Canadian History
Vol 9 2000

In the fall of 1999, a monument honouring the “Famous Five” was erected on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Who are the Famous Five?

When I mention that I devised and taught a course on Women in Canadian History, women’s attention is perked.

“Yeah, wasn’t Emily Carr the famous artist who painted forests and totem poles?” or, “Yes, I’d like to find out more about when women became persons .. and who were the Famous Five?”

Let me tell you the story of Emily Murphy, one of the five, whose life and circumstances prompted the famous “persons” case.

Emily Ferguson was born in 1868 in the village of Cookstown, Ontario. Her father, Isaac, was a wealthy landowner and businessman and a Conservative, or Tory. The family entertained many of the prominent men in the Canada of their day. Among their guests was Sir John A Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister. It is likely that Emily learned a lot about politics around the dinner table. One of her four Irish grandparents was a Member of Parliament for 27 years. A cousin on her mother’s side became a Supreme Court Judge who later became a Senator and was knighted. On her father’s side there was a Member of Parliament for Simcoe and Cardwell, another was a Justice of Ontario’s Supreme Court. Her three brothers were lawyers. Emily was completely unlike her genteel mother who, like many women of her social position in that day, was brought up to look ornamental and attract a husband. Emily’s father paid a tutor to journey the 25 kilometers from Barrie every Saturday morning to teach the five children penmanship. The concept behind this training was to teach them to hold their pens properly so they would have the ability to write for hours without getting cramped fingers.

The local Anglican rector prepared them for private school in Toronto. Emily went to Bishop Strachan School in Toronto, an exclusive grammar school for daughters of wealthy families; it was patterned on the British school system for the children of the elite. Life there was very different from the country school in Cookstown.

Here, the boisterous Emily was given a classical education; she studied Latin and religious knowledge, with heavy emphasis on memorization.

Emily developed a remarkable memory which, years later, caused Nellie McClug, who became her friend when they were pioneers and writers in the then exciting frontier city of Edmonton, to say that Emily’s mind was encyclopedic. Emily was fifteen years old and a student at Bishop Strachan when she met Arthur Murphy, a blond and handsome man of 26 who was studying for the Anglican ministry at Wycliffe College. She married him when she was nineteen, and led a typical life of an Anglican minister’s wife in the parishes of southern Ontario in the 1880s, except that she was younger than most of the women she taught in Bible classes. She arranged and co-ordinated fund-raising events and researched stories for Arthur’s sermons.

For ten years the Murphys moved from small cities and towns, and they had three daughters. Arthur was valued for his community work and business ability.

Emily was very happy in one parish particularly, Chatham. But she was not content to be a mother only. With household help, a maid and a house-maid, she had time for her reading, oil painting and community work.

Arthur so excelled in running a parish that the church would be on its feet financially, so the Bishop of Huron asked him to become a missionary in Western Ontario. For a year the Murphys moved every two weeks. In strange hotel rooms at night, Emily began writing her impressions of people and events.

The Mission Society was so impressed with Arthur’s dedication and success that they asked him to go to England to preach and teach for two years. The Murphys were delighted – to cultivated Canadians of that period, England, their homeland, seemed the epitome of culture and civilization.

In 1898 they set sail for England. While Arthur was preaching and the children were in school, Emily explored on her own. First she visited the places she had read about in history books: the Tower of London, the British Museum, Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. Then she began noticing the people on the streets; men in rags begging for money; rotting tenements, and the stinking garbage in the alleys of the big industrial cities.

Emily had an encounter that launched her career as a crusader for women’s rights. She set out for a trip on a pleasure steamer down the River Thames. She was stopped short by a girl whose horribly disfigured face caused people to walk around her. Emily, in her forthright manner, began to question the girl about her deformity.

The girl explained that she had been working in a match factory. She was constantly in air that was filled with phosphorous fumes that eventually caused a disease known as “matchmaker’s leprosy”. The teeth ache and then fall out, and later the loathsome leprosy eats its way into the roof of the mouth and inside the nose and then eats away at the jaw. Girls frequently lost their sight before death.

Emily seethed. Who cared? Who took responsibility? Her world view changed. She could not witness injustice and then forget about it. Emily Murphy no longer visited cathedrals and art galleries, but deliberately entered the world of Charles Dickens and journeyed into the back alleys and tenement sections of London. Her social conscience was raised, never to diminish

Who are the Albanians ?

Dr Mahmoud Sadek

Dr Mahmoud Sadek is a retired professor of Archeology and Art History, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He received his B A from the University of Alexandria, Egypt, his M A from the University of Toronto, and his PhD from Columbia University, New York, USA. He founded and chaired the Classical Archeology Program at Guelph from 1973-79. He has directed Archeological excavations in Egypt, France and Spain, and specializes in Egyptian, Greek and Roman Archeology on which he has published many books and articles

Who are the Albanians
Vol 9 2000

“Land of Albania !
Let me bend mine eyes on thee . . . “

This article will attempt to trace the history of a people who are little known or understood.

It was the geographer and astronomer of Alexandria, Egypt, Claudius Ptolemy (90-160 A.D.) who first referred to the “Albana” people, an Illyrian tribe. Their capital city was Albanopolis near the coastal port of Durres, and not far from Tirana, the capital of modern day Albania.

The early history of the area occupied by present day Albania begins in the middle of the third century B.C. The Illyrians founded a kingdom on parts of the coast and in the region surrounding the modern city of Shkodra.

The Illyrians were probably an Indo-European people who had settled in the Balkan peninsula in pre-historic times.

The land of Illyria included not only the Albania of today but also the Roman provinces of Dalmatra (Yugoslavia before the partition) and Epirus (today in North-west Greece). The Roman occupation of Illyria began when the last Illyrian king surrendered the capital to Rome in 168 B.C. By the end of the 1st century B.C., the Romans had conquered all of Illyria.

In the 4th century A.D. the Roman prefecture Illyrium was organized to include a large part of the region north of the Adriatic Sea and much of the Balkan peninsula. Under Roman rule, Illyria enjoyed great prosperity and many roads and towns were built. During the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the people were gradually Christianized into a form of Catholicism with weak ties to the Pope in Rome.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D. a barbarian horde from the north, The Ostogoths, moved in. They were converts to the Arian Doctrine, a form of early Christianity which believed neither in the divinity of Christ nor the crucifixion.

The Ostogoths remained in the country until 535 when emperor Justinian re-conquered it for the Byzantine Empire.

map who are the albanians

The land was later invaded by barbarian people from the north-east of Europe, the Slavs, and from the east by the Bulgars. By 640, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius finding no one to help him drive the Slavs out, settled them in the south-western part of the Balkans, thereby dispossessing the Illyrians and moving them southward.

The Slavs gradually formed the Slavic states of Serbia, Croatia, Dalmatia and Istria, and became Christianized.

Foreign rule never became fully entrenched in the rugged mountain region of south western Illyria and some of the fierce mountain tribes continued to live in virtual independence. However, from 1014 to 1204, the southern most areas were again under Byzantine rule.

According to scholars in linguistics, the Albanians of today are the only people in Europe and, particularly in the Balkan peninsula, whose language is that of the ancient Illyrians. Albanians are the indigenous continuants of the Illyrian population who were neither ‘Romanized’ nor assimilated by later invaders.

By the mid 7th century, the land of the Illyrians, now referred to as Albania, was reduced by the onslaught of the Slavs to roughly the area between Shkodra in the north to Akarnania in the south and from the coastal area of Durres to include the regions of Kosovo and Monastir in the east and Yanina in the south. The kings of Sicily (Hohenstraufen) invaded and ruled Central Albania from 1271 to 1378 during which time the Serbs also made inroads from the north.

Under the Serbian Stephen Dushan (1331-1355) a large part of Albania was subdued by 1344. The atrocities of the Serbs in Albania led a great number of people to flee to southern Italy.

The refugees in Italy referred to their homeland as “Arbana” and to themselves as “Arbaneshe”. This lends support to the writing of Anna Comnena (1083-1146), daughter of the Byzantine emperor, Alexius I, who recorded in her famous history that the population located behind Durres called themselves “Arbanez”. Perhaps the geographer Ptolemy confused the letters “R” and “L” and wrote “Albana” rather than “Arbana” in his book.

The same conditions that led some groups to flee to Italy, led others to move south to Greece where they formed Albanian communities especially in Macedonia and Thrace.

According to Greek records of the 15th century, these people called themselves “Arvaniti”. As Greeks to the present day always pronounce the letter “B” as “V” this would account for this version of the name.

One of the early Albanian writers of the16th century, Gjon Buzuku, referred to his country as “Arben”. He was also the first to call its language “shqip”. Today Albanians call their country “Shqiperia”-the land of the eagle, and themselves “Shqiptare” – the sons of the eagle.

In 1389 the Ottoman Sultan, Murad I defeated an anti-Ottoman coalition of Hungarians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Poles, Serbs and Albanians at the battle of Kosovo.

Although the Sultan was assassinated by an Albanian named Milosh Kopiliq this bloody defeat opened the way for yet deeper penetration of Albanian territory under Sultan Bayazet – nicknamed “Thunderbolt”. He overran Albania from 1394 to 1396 and occupied it from Gjirokastra in the south to Shkodra in the north, and from its eastern border to Durres on the coast. Albania was to become a Sanjak (flag) of the Ottoman Empire – Sanjaki Arvanid, later Sanjaki Arnaud.

In their literature of the 15th century, the Ottomans refer to Albania as “Arnautluk” – the land of the Arna’uts, and to the Albanians as Arna’ut or Arna’uti.

It seems obvious that these terms are a corruption of the Greek word Arvaniti.

The Arna’uts, as the Ottoman called them, rose against Ottoman rule led by the great national hero Scanderbeg. Although a Muslim, he was first a patriot and so resisted the rule of the Ottoman Turks. Only after his death in 1468 did the Ottomans gain the upper hand – yet their rule was never completely effective.

During the period of Ottoman dominance the majority of Arna’uts converted to the Sunni sect of Islam.

Many distinguished themselves in the services of their Turkish rulers. Arna’uti courage and loyalty led to the Turkish Sultans preferring them to the Janissaries as their royal body guard – in the same way that the roman emperors before them had appointed Illyrians as their praetorian guards.

Like the praetorian guards, the Arna’uts could make or break the ruler. One instance was the re-instating of Sultan Selim III (1789-1807) when the Janissary had removed him to appoint Mustafa IV (1807-1808). Shortly after Selim was murdered by the Janissaries, the Arna’uts succeeded in making his brother a Sultan- Mahmoud II (1809-1839).

The Arna’uts became synonymous with the wild and fearsome mountaineers of the rugged land of Albania. They became the cream of the Ottoman forces and several rose to the level of grand vizir such as Kara Mustafa who conquered the Balkans and laid siege to Vienna in 1683.

They were the descendants of the Illyrians who had excelled in the past as people of the highest integrity, steadfast in their principles. Among them came two great Roman emperors:

Diocletian

Diocletian (296-305)
who divided the empire into four parts to prevent its further disintegration;

 

 

and Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great (311-337)
who declared Christianity
as the official religion of the Roman empire,

 

also the great Byzantine emperorByzantine emporor Justinian

Justinian (527-565)
who compiled and reformed
Roman Law that became the
basis of the laws of the western world

 

 

Albanians never became part of the Ottoman melting pot, although there were large cities in the Ottoman Empire that were heavily populated by Muslim Albanians, such as Salonika, Kavalla and the region of Thasallia, all in northern Greece of today.

Ali Pasha of Yanina

During the 18th &19th centuries, independent native princes ruled Albania for brief periods. One of the foremost was Ali Pasha of Yanina (1741-1822) who rebelled and fought against the Turks, successfully carving for himself a sizeable area of the Ottoman Empire which he ruled independently of the Turks. He had his capital at Yanina (now in north -west Greece).

His land extended from Durres to the south to include all of the Peloponnese except Attica and east to encompass Thessaly and part of Macedonia.

The English poet Byron visited Albania during this period, and he met and was entertained by Ali Pasha. He wrote that

the Arna’uts, or Albanese, struck me forcibly by their resemblance to the Highlander of Scotland, in dress, figure and manner of living;[they] have a fine cast of countenance; and the most beautiful women I ever beheld, in stature and in features

Lord Byron

So impressed was he with the country and its inhabitants that he sometimes wore an Albanian costume and his poet friend Shelley nicknamed him “Albi

As part of his strategy to weaken the Ottoman Empire, Ali Pasha encouraged and subsidized the Greek War of Independence causing Victor Hugo to consider him as “the only man of the age fit to be compared to Napoleon”. It is ironic to note that another Arna’ut -Mohamed Ali of Egypt, was ultimately responsible for suppressing the Greek revolt.

He had been asked by Sultan Mahmoud II (1809-1839) to help defeat the Greek rebels. At first Mohamed Ali was hesitant to take up arms against the Arna’uts and their Greek allies. Then news came that the Greeks had turned on the Arna’uts, who had been living for centuries in various Greek centres, and massacred thousands, burning villages and destroying mosques. In addition, Sultan Mahmoud promised to make Mohamed Ali ruler of Morea (southern Greece of today) in the event of a successful campaign. So Mohamed Ali sent his son Ibrahim, who, like his father, had been born in Kavalla, in northern Greece, to lead his Nizam Jadid (the new order) highly trained Egyptian soldiers, much admired by Ottomans and Europeans alike. Ibrahim quickly succeeded in quelling the rebellion.

Although Ibrahim’s birthplace, Kavalla, was once heavily populated by Arna’uts and had several mosques – nothing remains today except for an equestrian statue of Ibrahim, symbolically placing his sword in its scabbard. In 1846, shortly before Mohamed Ali Pasha died, he visited Kavalla donating money for a school which still stands to this day.

When the Sultan reneged on his promise to Mohamed Ali, a feud broke out between them leading the Pasha to declare total independence from the Ottoman Empire. With his son Ibrahim continuing to lead the army, Mohamed Ali carved out an extensive empire that included : Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Palestine and eastern Anatolia.

The entire Ottoman Imperial army was defeated at the battle of Nazib on June 24, 1839 and the way was open to Istanbul. At this point, the European powers intervened and persuaded Mohamed Ali to make his son withdraw in return for making Egypt an independent country to be ruled by him and his descendants.

Mohamed Ali receiving dignitaries

And so it was until 1952 when the last of Egypt’s Albanian monarchs-King Farouk-abdicated, ending the dynasty founded by Mohamed Ali in 1805.

There are some interesting comments on the Arna’uts made by Lady Montagu (1689-1762), the wife of the British ambassador to Istanbul. She travelled through Europe to Turkey in 1716 and described her trip through the land of the Arna’ut with the following note on religious practices:

“But of all the religions I have seen, the Arna’ut seem to me the most particular .. these people living between Christians and Mohammedans.. they very prudently follow both and go to the mosque on Fridays, and to the church on Sundays”

Most likely Lady Montagu had been observing the habits of the Bektashi Muslim sect which was introduced to Albania by Bektashi dervishes when they rode with the Ottomans into the Balkans. The founder of this sect, Hadji Bektash, was born in Persia, in 1249, moved to Turkey in 1284 and died there in 1344 at age 90. He revered Christ as equal to Mohamed and both as the true messengers of God. The orthodox Sunni Muslims attacked the Bektashi sect and described it as being “half Muslim, half Christian” but naturally such a religious half-way house held a special appeal for Christian Albanians otherwise reluctant to be converted to Islam.

During his sojourn in Albania, Byron had also noted that:

“the Greeks hardly regard them as Christians,
or the Turks as Muslims;
and in fact they are a mixture of both, and sometimes neither”

Unfortunately, the hatred of Bektashism by the Sunni Turks increased, leading to the decline of the sect to some 200,000 adherents by the end of the 19th century.

Albania persisted in its attempts to regain independence from the Ottomans throughout the last half of the 19th century.

With the help of European powers, Greece, by the 1830s, had already become independent. However, it was in vain that Albania pleaded for support, as none of the European countries even paid lip service to this cause.

Albania unilaterally declared its independence on 28th of November 1912, and the Great Powers of Europe finally recognized Albanian independence from Turkey in principle at the Conference of Ambassadors in London, on the 11th of December 1912. Albania declared its neutrality in all future conflicts in the Balkans at this time.

The following year the conference met again and decided that for this recognition Albania must be deprived of half her territory and population including the regions of Kosovo, Monastir and Yanina.

Subsequently the secret “Treaty of London” in 1915, between England, France, Italy and Russia agreed to the complete dismemberment and partition of Albania to Italy, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro so as not to have an Islamic state in Europe.

Greece and Italy invaded Albania; the former occupied southern Albania, the latter held part of the southern coastal area on the Adriatic.

Encouraged by the Greek and Italian success, the Serbs and Montenegrins invaded northern Albania in 1915.

Reports had been made to the Great Powers the previous year about the atrocities of Serbian troops killing men, women and children in northern Albania especially in the ‘vilayet’ of Kosovo; and it was emphasized that they had been committed in cold blood.

The plan to partition Albania was brought to the Peace Conference of Versailles at the end of World War I.

Debate continued on whether to recognize a tiny autonomous Albanian state. The Albanians had to fight as never before for their very existence as a nation.

Prior to the Peace Conference of Versailles the American President, Woodrow Wilson had convened a Congress of Oppressed Nations in July 1918 in Washington, D.C. and Albania was among the countries represented at the conference that culminated in President Wilson’s issuing his famous “14 Points” on nationhood and self-determination.

At Versailles, Wilson opposed the partition of Albania and threatened that he would not sign the treaty. The final compromise enabled Albania to remain independent but with the borders outlined in the treaty of 1913.

Turkey also suffered tremendously by the loss of all her territory in the Middle East and Europe, except Istanbul; and the notion of the partition of Turkey itself was discussed.

Subsequently, Greek forces landed in Anatolia to establish their territory there.

It would take another Albanian, Mustapha Kemal, born in Macedonia of Albanian parentage, to repel the invader and maintain the integrity of the Turkish border as defined at Versailles. Mustapha Kemal is considered to be the founder of modern Turkey and the people bestowed upon him the title of Ataturk – the father of Turkey