An accused terrorist should not be teaching our children
Iwas surprised to read the National Post’s editorial yesterday (“Innocent until proven guilty”). The editorial critiqued B’nai Brith Canada for challenging Carleton University’s decision to ask Hassan Diab, who is accused of killing four people in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue, to return to active teaching duty.
The university has since decided to replace Mr. Diab. Meanwhile, the Canadian Association of University Teachers is decrying Carleton for caving in to “external pressure.” Which leads me to ask: Are the general public, parents and students themselves, who are most directly affected, to be dismissed as merely “external” players and denied a voice?
It is hard to fathom how Mr. Diab’s return to Carleton’s faculty at this juncture could be construed as in any way positive for the university or its students. Canadian authorities have made the decision that this individual is a sufficiently potential danger to Canadians that his movements are severely restricted and closely monitored.
As long as the investigation and Mr. Diab’s extradition hearings are ongoing, it is unfathomable that he should be put in a position of influence. Were he permitted to teach, he would be in regular, ongoing, daily contact with students, some of whom are Jewish and already feel the stigma of being marginalized on campus.
The very notion that it is business as usual for those accused of misdemeanours, let alone serious crimes, is preposterous. Why are teachers taken out of the classroom when under investigation for improper conduct? Why are policemen suspended from active duty when under suspicion? Should we not presuppose their innocence since they vehemently claim it? Why forbid a hit-and-run suspect from driving while the investigation continues? After all, perhaps he will yet be proven innocent.
What about the stringent limitations imposed on accused pedophiles, child molesters or wife-beaters, and all before either conviction or acquittal? It is not unusual for suspected felons to be sequestered from the public and removed from contact with those they are suspected of harming. Has murder suddenly become a lesser evil so that we can countenance a suspect being put in a position of power in a teacher-student relationship before we know the outcome of the proceedings against him, simply because he proclaims his innocence?
This is not, as the National Post suggests, a matter of innocent until proven guilty, which is for the courts to determine. At its core, it is about exercising basic common sense. Common sense, after all, would seem to dictate a cautionary route that does not expose the public, especially vulnerable and impressionable young persons, to individuals facing possible conviction unless and until they are exonerated. The student population at Carleton certainly falls under this category.
If convicted by a French court, Mr. Diab faces possible life imprisonment for murder, attempted murder and willful destruction of property. Why are we suddenly so willing to expose Canadian students to this man while the allegations against him still stand?
Frank Dimant is the executive vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada, the Jewish community’s foremost human rights organization, active in this country since 1875.
A police sketch released in 1980 by French police shows Hassan Diab.