The headline in Sunday's Ottawa Citizen was strange: "'The ordeal' is not over for Hassan Diab after French court sentences him to life in prison." Clearly, the Citizen's sympathy is with Diab, despite the fact that he must have been convicted of something extremely serious to warrant being given life in prison. And the Citizen is not alone.
Hassan Diab is a darling of the Leftist political and media establishment, despite the fact that the crime he was convicted of committing was the bombing of the Rue Copernic synagogue in Paris during Shabbat services on Oct. 3, 1980. Four people were killed and 46 others were injured. Or given the Left's increasing antisemitism, is the support he has received not despite the nature of his crime, but because of it?
Diab, a lecturer at Carleton University in Ottawa, didn't attend his trial in Paris and scorned the proceedings. After he was convicted Friday, Canada's state-funded CBC reported that he "expressed disappointment and called his situation 'Kafkaesque.'" He added, "We hoped reason would prevail," and said that it was "still devastating to know they pursued that biased road which led to the unfortunate decision."
Diab's lawyer, Donald Bayne, agreed, and decried the unfairness of the proceedings in Paris: "The evidence shows he's innocent and yet they've convicted him. It's a political result. It's a wrongful conviction." Maybe. It's nothing unusual for people who have been convicted of crimes to insist upon their innocence, but Diab has Leftist friends in high places, including Justin Trudeau.
Randall Garrison, whom the CBC identifies as a New Democratic Party "justice critic," declared: "The horrible conditions Dr. Diab suffered over flimsy and discredited evidence violated his rights and poisoned the process. Given that no justice has been served, New Democrats are demanding the government block any attempts by France to extradite Dr. Diab." Amnesty International decried the case against Diab as "baseless and flawed."
On the other side, however, Yonathan Arfi of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) was happy with the verdict, saying, "After 43 years of judicial wandering, justice is finally served for this deadly antisemitic attack. Everything must now be done to enforce the international arrest warrant. CRIF calls on Canada to cooperate with French justice."
When asked if he would allow Diab to be extradited to France to serve his sentence, Trudeau said, "We will look carefully at next steps, at what the French government chooses to do, at what French tribunals choose to do. But we will always be there to stand up for Canadians and their rights." However, it is not at all clear that anyone's rights were violated in this case except those of the victims of the bombing.
Diab is accused of having carried out the bombing as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terror group dedicated to the destruction of Israel. He was arrested In 2008 and extradited to France in 2014, but was released in 2018 after judges stated that there was insufficient evidence to try him. However, many in France clearly believed there was plenty of evidence: CBC notes that "Diab's release was opposed by more than 20 civil society groups in France — including victims of terrorism groups and pro-Israel organizations." In 2021, France's top court ordered a trial and said that if Diab didn't show up, he would be tried in absentia. And now he has been convicted.
For his part, Diab "pointed to remarks Trudeau made in 2018 about his case, when the prime minister said what happened to Diab should not have happened and should never happen again," and "called on Trudeau to honour those words."
He very well may do so. But the old adage that you can tell a lot about a man by his enemies also works in reverse: you can tell a lot about a man by his friends. Amnesty International has falsely accused Israel of apartheid. Justin Trudeau sends millions to the "Palestinians," which only ends up financing the jihad against Israel. He has also claimed that Islamic law is compatible with democracy. He shares fashionable Leftist views of "Palestinian" victimhood, while ignoring, like other Leftist leaders in the West, the frequent hateful and even genocidal statements from "Palestinian" leaders.
If Hassan Diab were an Israeli who had been accused of bombing a mosque in France and had then become a professor in Canada, only to be convicted years later while maintaining his innocence, would Justin Trudeau be fighting for him? Would the government of Canada be hinting that it would fight his extradition to France? It's virtually inconceivable that Trudeau would have done anything in such a case other than condemn the perpetrator and commend the workings of justice.
Hassan Diab has the advantage of having been part of a movement that is favored on the political Left. If he weren't, no one would be lamenting his "ordeal" today.