Canadian Palestinian leader Burhan Azzeh charged with threat

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports that the leader of the Niagara Palestinian Association, Burhan Azzeh, spent one night in jail last week and was ordered to stay away from the B’nai Israel Synagogue in St. Catharines, Ontario. Azzeh, writes the JTA, was charged with making an unspecified threat against the Jewish community and ordered to surrender his passport to police, stay in the Niagara region and avoid “any function or protest where members of the Jewish community can reasonably be expected to be in attendance.” Niagara Regional Police did not divulge details about comments Azzeh allegedly made at his workplace that led to the charges

The Association headed by Azzeh and his wife Susan Howard-Azzeh filed a complaint on August 11 against Ontario Police chiefs who had participated in a March 2005 fact-finding trip on security measures to Israel where they met with both Israeli counterparts and Palestinian officials. The complaint, which questionned the ethics of Israeli security services asked: “Israel treats its internal minority populations as the enemy; will Ontario and Canada emulate this pattern and treat its internal minority populations as the enemy too ? “

In Hamilton, the complaint led to a public meeting with the plaintiffs and supporters of the trip on September 21 organized by the local Police Services Board. Claiming she was not allowed to talk at the meeting, Susan Howard-Azzeh commented the next day she wished “someone would wipe that evil, self-congratulatory smirk off puppeter Bernie Farber’s [Executive Director of the Ontario Branch of the Canadian Jewish Congress] smug face, whom she charged disrupted the meeting. In fact, however, when Azzeh’s turn to speak came, she began showing slides of crying Palestinian children eventhough Board Chair Bernie Morelli had warned her that the use of visual aids was not permitted. Morelli adjourned the meeting.

A similar complaint filed by Khaled Mouammar was rejected by the York Region’s police services board on August 30.