Canadian professors say they are outraged at Carleton University for the abrupt firing this week, with no warning or explanation, of a professor the French government says is responsible for the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people.
Sociology professor Hassan Diab has been out on bail since March, while awaiting a January hearing on whether Canada should deport him to France, which plans to charge him with murder.
But when a judge loosened Diab’s bail conditions this week to give him more freedom of movement on the Ottawa campus, B’nai Brith Canada released a statement Tuesday condemning Carleton for employing a suspected terrorist.
Later that day, while Diab was teaching a class in introductory sociology, university officials cancelled his contract and named another lecturer to replace him.
"This shows a total disregard for the presumption of innocence until proven guilty – and of academic freedom and due process. We’ve never seen anything like this at a Canadian university," said Jim Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, which condemned Carleton’s move yesterday.
Diab, who has lived in Canada for years and taught at both Carleton and the University of Ottawa, is allowed to teach under the terms of his bail, Turk noted, because Canadian courts deemed he was neither a public danger nor a flight risk.
Diab would not speak to the Star yesterday, but he has maintained all along that the French charges are a case of mistaken identity because he has a common Lebanese name.
Carleton officials would not comment beyond the terse one-line statement this week that Diab was being replaced "in the interest of providing students with a stable, productive academic environment that is conducive to learning."
Carleton sociology chair Peter Gose called Diab’s abrupt dismissal "appalling, a terrible injustice and fundamental breach of natural justice to terminate a contract without notice or consultation."
A B’nai Brith statement said "Canadians should be extremely concerned that an alleged terrorist … will be teaching our youth at a leading Canadian university."