A member of the Syrian/Lebanese community in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has spoken out against some of the comments made about the community in the wake of the hacking of the official website of the Government of SVG on the weekend.
A message on the landing page of the website Sunday evening suggested that it had been hacked by Islamic State, an Islamist rebel group claiming religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Telecommunications Camillo Gonsalves told I-Witness News Monday morning that he was in Ecuador and could not comment on the development as he was yet to receive a briefing.
A government spokesperson told I-Witness News early Monday evening that officials were discussing the development and that he anticipates that a statement would be made “soon”.
Two computer experts, one of whom spoke off the record, have both said that the website was not as secure as it could have been.
- St. Vincent gov’t website hacked. No need to panic
- Hacking of St. Vincent gov’t website by ‘Islamic State’ was easy to prevent …
Internet consultant Ayodele Pompey in a post on LinkedIn on Monday (republished on I-Witness News) said, “Understandably, there is a bit of panic as persons are not sure what is affected and how this breach of ‘national security’ will affect the country or their own systems”.
Pompey, however, expressed doubt that Islamic State had in fact hacked the website.
“It is very highly unlikely that ISIS targeted St. Vincent and the Grenadines (you can wipe the sweat from your forehead). The hacker is most likely what we call a script kiddie. These are young upcoming hackers who just hack for fun and fame,” Pompey said.
But the suggestion that Islamic State might have hacked the government website resulted in some untoward comments on social media and elsewhere about the Middle Eastern community in SVG.
“In recent light of what allegedly happened pertaining to the government website being hacked by Isis, I noticed a few selected persons [lash out] at the Syrian/Lebanese community insinuating that they might have some connection to it,” a spokesperson for the community, who asked that only his first name, Jason, be used, said in a written statement sent to I-Witness News on Monday.
Jason noted that the Syrians and Lebanese community has been part of the Vincentian citizenry for over 50 years.
“We have been working and living here and have adopted the way of life in this wonderful nation that we call home. The Syrian/Lebanese, community, who are predominantly CHRISTIAN in faith (Catholic), has lived by the law and culture in SVG and have lived peacefully side by side with Vincentians ever since,” he said.
Jason said the Syrian and Lebanese communities have contributed economically and socially to SVG and have no connection to Islamic State or its campaign of terror.
“We, as well as most Vincentians, believe in freedom of religion; we also condemn and rebuke the Islamic State and what it stands for,” he said.
“The Syrians/Lebanese migrated to SVG over 50 years ago for the same reason that Vincentians migrate to the US, Britain or Canada — for a supposedly better life. We have lived and died here and became Vincentians as well,” he said.
“We love this nation and wishes it nothing but the best. I was born and raised here. I went to school here and I call here my home. I stand with all Vincentians against any act of terror or evil against this nation,” Jason told I-Witness News.
Kenton Jasons comments mirror somewhat like what wrote as a comment elsewhere..
“We must be very careful to balance what we say about citizens such as the Syrians and the Chinese. Many of the Syrian families came to the Caribbean in the 1920 and 30s. They came because they are Christians and were being persecuted in what was the Greater Syria by Muslims. They have served us well in investing in our islands and selling things that people can afford. They have always been a trading people its part of their natural make up. They do not have exclusive control of the shop and store industry in the city, there are black people who have stores and shops. Owning a shop in Kingstown is not closed to black people, they have the same opportunity as the Syrians and Chinese. Also to remember they employ a lot of black people in their businesses, although I suspect these are low paid jobs, they are still putting food on the table. With regards to all the profit leaving our tiny country, they live here they die here, in general they have little contact with Syria, certainly they are not shipping cash abroad as expatriates do, they keep their money here. They invest in houses at Cain Garden, so what, its become an overcrowded crap area any way, if they want to live and invest there, its their prerogative to do so, they are after all Vincentians”.
“This group of people are very vulnerable to politics and politicians, and I suspect they are being milked for what may be seen as little more than protection money by some present unscrupulous politicians”.
“If you remember a comment following a past election by a member of the family dynasty, we know who you voted for which was taken to mean that somehow the voting papers had been made available to regime members”.
“As black people we must not believe we own the place, we do not. We live in a multiracial society, peacefully and with tolerance. I know that is currently being challenged by the re-enslavement of our people […] The problem is that the majority of black people just do not see the shackles being bolted to their ankles”.
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