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Montreal Lebanese protest government's stand on attacks
MONTREAL: TORONTO -- About 1,000 members of Montreal's Lebanese community protested yesterday against the Harper government's stand on the Middle East conflict, marching in the city's downtown, past the Israeli consulate to a federal government building.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had a hand in crafting a statement from G8 leaders yesterday that called on both sides in the conflict to release prisoners and halt their offensive actions, said on Thursday he believed Israel's response to a raid by Hezbollah into Israeli territory had been measured.
The mood among the protesters walking from Dominion Square to Complexe Guy-Favreau in the city's east end yesterday in the sweltering heat, brandishing Lebanese flags and denouncing Israel's "barbarous" attacks on their country, was one of stoic anger rather than rage.
"This is the biggest nonsense," Mazen El-Khairy, 67, said of Mr. Harper's statement. "What measured reaction? It's a shame we're following the United States in its block support of Israel."
Similar anger was shared by the Canadian Arab Federation. Khaled Mouammar, the national president of the federation, said his group and five others that had invited Public Security Minister Stockwell Day to join them at the Aug. 4 dinner have called off the event because of the "hostile" stand taken by the Prime Minister with regard to the current situation in the Middle East.
"This is outrageous. This is not what Canadians stood for in the past. Canada has always sought to be an objective mediator, but they're now imitating the American front with no conscience for Canadian lives," Mr. Mouammar said.
"These are Canadians being killed, and all Stephen Harper could say was the Israeli response was a measured one."
There are an estimated 135,000 Lebanese Canadians in the country, with the majority living in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.