Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Layton Appears at 'Terrorist' Group's Rally

An atrocious comparison
National Post
Tuesday, September 28, 2004

It is bad enough that on Saturday the Ontario legislature became the scene of a so-called Tamil "peace" rally -- at which flags of the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist group based in Sri Lanka, were proudly waved.

But far more disturbing was the presence of federal NDP leader Jack Layton at the event. Mr. Layton's decision to participate lends an endorsement to the Tamil Tigers, a radical and violent terrorist group that has perpetrated dozens of suicide bombings during its long campaign of terror against Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority, including the assassination of Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Mr. Layton took the stage in front of a huge picture of Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, then proceeded to compare the Tamil terrorist head to former South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela.

Comparing Prabhakaran, who is wanted by Interpol for murder and terrorism, to a statesman such as Mr. Mandela is atrociously ignorant. Mr. Prabhakaran presides over a cult-like group that has murdered thousands, recruited children at gunpoint to fill its ranks and extorted millions of dollars from peaceable Tamils.

It would be interesting to hear Mr. Layton explain how exactly this figure can be compared to Mr. Mandela, a champion of the campaign against South African apartheid. Those operations was often violent. But Mr. Mandela and his comrades were generally careful to avoid civilian casualties. Certainly, they never precipitated the sort of wanton slaughter that has been attributed to Mr. Prabhakaran.

Can Mr. Layton really not see the difference between the two? Or -- as we suspect -- is he aware, but willing to cynically overlook them in an attempt to find favour with an influential ethnic community? What a sad display from a man who purports to be the principled leader of Parliament's most humane party.