by The Canadian Islamic Congress | Press Release | 8 November 2004
THE COREN TAPE:
ISLAMIC CONGRESS SAYS MEDIA AND TWO JEWISH GROUPS OWE APOLOGY TO ORGANIZATION, ITS PRESIDENT, CANADIAN MUSLIMS, AND THE CANADIAN PUBLIC
The Canadian Islamic Congress today said that the Canadian media and two Canadian Jewish groups owe CIC, its president, Muslims, and the Canadian public an apology.
Following the controversial airing of the Michael Coren Show on October 19, Canadian news media launched a relentless and unfair attack against the Canadian Islamic Congress and its president -- and are still doing so -- while covering up for weeks the outrageous statements made on the same show by Adam Aptowitzer, then the Ontario chairman of the B'nai Brith Institute of International Affairs.
For nearly two weeks, while never referring to Mr. Aptowitzer's statements, show host Michael Coren and the Canadian media used news stories, editorials, op-ed pieces, columns, photos, front page coverage, cartoons, and radio and TV commentaries to paint a negative picture of CIC and its president which seriously distorts and falsifies the truth.
It was widely reported, for example, that "Mr. Elmasry said all Israelis over 18 were legitimate targets for suicide bombers." This is totally false.
At no time during the two weeks following the airing of the show, did any of the Canadian media question the completeness or the accuracy of the show transcript that was given to them, nor did any take the initiative to do their own transcripting. Instead, they totally and completely relied on the heavily selective one provided to them, which was one-sided and referred only to Dr. Elmasry's remarks, but not to those by Mr. Aptowitzer.
Within one week of the outbreak out of this controversy, Dr. Elmasry publicly offered his regrets, a public all-encompassing apology, and offered to step down from his leadership of the CIC for failing to articate his belief that "killing civilians -- any civilians, for any cause -- is an immoral act of the worst kind." The CIC board of directors has accepted his apology but rejected his resignation, based on an "exemplary 30 year record" in public service.
Mr. Apotowitzer, who had been in his post with B'nai Brith for only a few months, waited until only a few days ago to resign, when the full transcript of the show became available. His resignation was quietly accepted. The media ran no photos of him, no cartoons, no extensive front page coverage, no editorials, etc. He was allowed to be anonymous and his mistakes will soon be forgotten. Dr. Elmasry's far lesser mistake -- of not qualifying his answer to one of Coren's questions -- will be remembered for a long, long time because the media chose him and CIC as a target.
The Canadian Islamic Congress strongly feels that a timely process of forgiveness and healing has to start between Canada's Muslims, Jews, and other groups who took offense after the Michael Coren affair. For this process to start, the Canadian Jewish Congress, B'nai Brith, and the Canadian media must offer CIC, its president, Muslims, and the Canadian public a sincere apology for their unfair and unbalanced treatment of both Dr. Elmasry's and Mr. Aptowitzer's remarks.
PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT (THAT WAS CIRCULATED FOR THE FIRST TWO WEEKS WITH ONLY DR. ELMASRY'S REMARKS):
Mrs. Wahida Valiante,