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.
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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.