Don’t call Hamas men ‘terrorists’: Canadian public broadcaster tells staff

Ironically, Hamas is a designated terrorist organisation in Canada.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 11 October, 2023 4:08 pm IST

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) issued strict guidelines to its journalists, instructing them to avoid using the term ‘terrorist’ for the Palestine-based Hamas group. Hamas launched one of the deadliest attacks on Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of over 1,200 people.

George Achi, the director of journalistic standards for the Canadian public broadcaster, wrote in an email to employees on Saturday, “Do not refer to militants, soldiers, or anyone else as ‘terrorists.’ The notion of terrorism remains heavily politicized and is part of the story.”

Established in 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., or CBC, serves as the national public broadcaster for both radio and television.

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On Saturday, Palestinian armed men stormed the Israeli border along Gaza, resulting in the killing and abduction of hundreds of civilian men, women, and children. Distressing reports of beheadings and rape flooded the internet.

However, the CBC executive mentioned that it was a matter of debate to call Hamas as ‘terrorists’ in the email addressed to CBC staff. “Even when quoting or clipping a government or a source referring to fighters as ‘terrorists,’ we should add context to ensure the audience understands this is opinion, not fact,” Achi added.

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It is pertinent to note that Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamiya, or Hamas, has been listed as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government since 2002, as per publicly available information on their government website.

In addition to Hamas, Canada has also officially designated a few other organizations as terrorist groups, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

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This is not the first time that Canada has faced scrutiny for showing a ‘sympathetic’ attitude towards gruesome crimes committed by terrorist groups.

In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an explosive allegation, suggesting that ‘Indian government agents’ could be behind the shooting of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India categorically rejected Canada’s allegations, calling them ‘absurd.’

Nijjar, aged 45, was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Canada’s British Columbia in June. He was the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and a proscribed terrorist wanted in connection with the 2007 Shingar Cinema bomb blast and several killings in the late 80s and early 90s. He escaped to Canada on a forged passport in the name of “Ravi Sharma” in 1996, according to reports, and became a Canadian citizen in May 2007.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Ali Sabry, accused Canada of being a ‘safe haven for terrorists’ and suggested that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was prone to making ‘outrageous and unsubstantiated allegations.’

In September this year, Candian Prime minister Justin Trudeau faced backlash after a Nazi War veteran was recognized as a war hero in the Canadian House of Commons during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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