[UPDATED with Medical Office Protest Set:] Hazem Chehabi, Physician and Syria Consul General, Urged to Cut Ties With "Brutal" Regime or Quit UCI Board

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Chehabi
UPDATE, MAY 30, 10:37 A.M.: The Syrian Emergency Task Force-Greater LA has rallied outside the Syria Consulate office in Newport Beach and asked Dr. Hazem H. Chehabi to step down as honorary consul general (or for the UC Irvine Foundation to drop him from its board if he doesn't) over human rights abuses in his homeland.

Now, the group is moving their protest to the front of Chehabi's Newport Beach medical office.

It's set to begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Newport Diagnostic Center, 1605 Avocado Ave., where the call will be the same:

The good doctor must step down.

UPDATE, MAY 19, 3:37 P.M.: While applauding sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Syrian President Bashar Assad and six senior Syrian officials for human rights abuses over their brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, a Phoenix, Arizona-based Syrian rights group is calling for even stronger measures.

Among them: "Immediate dismissal of all Syrian diplomats on American soil."

How would that apply to Dr. Hazem H. Chehabi, the Newport Beach-based honorary consul general for Syria?

Zuhdi Jasser, the leader of Save Syria Now!, tells the Weekly: "Just like support of Hamas became illegal and the Holy Land Foundation trial convicted its board members of aiding a terrorist group identified by the US government as a terror group. Mr. Chehabi needs to publicly immediately dissociate his association with the barbaric regime of Bashar Assad and his henchmen or suffer the legal repercussions which I hope and pray now exist with official sanctions now in place against the Assad regime and his family.

"If not, Mr. Chehabi needs to be publicly repudiated as a sympathizer with a pariah state and government of Syria and an enemy of freedom and liberty of the Syrian people and humanitarian principles. Personally, I believe Mr. Chehabi also should apologize for his facilitation and empowerment on American soil of the vicious Assad regime and he should realize that while he may just have an honorary position this complicity holds him morally accountable for the regime he represents."

But Jasser conceded that, legally, Chehabi cannot be removed from the country like full-time Syrian officials.

"As an American citizen he is not just a diplomat so I do not believe he can be booted out like diplomats who are given those privileges while we have good diplomatic relations," Jasser said. "But certainly he should be held publicly accountable for his associations and removed from any American institutions that stand for individual rights and freedom."

Meanwhile, Jasser and Save Syria Now! had earlier issued the following statement about the unrest in their homeland and the U.S. response to it:

Syrian Americans applaud the long overdue decision of President Obama to sanction Bashar Assad; Save Syria Now! pleads for President Obama to do all in US power to hasten the departure of the Assad regime

PHOENIX (May 18, 2011) -Dr. Zuhdi Jasser from Save Syria Now!, released the following statement in support of President Obama's long overdue decision to sanction Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"We applaud the long overdue decision of President Obama to impose sanctions on the despotic and morally corrupt regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. This decision brings much needed attention to the plight of the Syrian people and will hopefully embolden other nations to abandon any belief that the Assad regime is anything other than thugs and criminals. Assad's brutalization of the Syrian people can not be allowed to stand. The unfolding daily humanitarian disaster in the towns and on the streets of Syria with the Syrian military and police shooting democracy activists in cold blood, cutting off towns from the outside world and the complete isolation of Syria from foreign media have created an unconscionable situation for the Syrian people. Any verbiage from the Assad regime about 'negotiations' or 'reform' are all pure and simple lies.

"As Americans of Syrian descent we now ask President Obama to demand that President Bashar Assad and his ruling family of thugs go. The Assad regime has proven time and again that it cares little for the Syrian people and that it has no fear of retribution for its daily immoral and barbaric acts against its own people. As Syrians who enjoy the freedoms of America we demand our governments do everything possible to fulfill our moral obligations to stand for freedom in Syria against the brutality of the Assad regime.

"We implore the administration and our western allies to levy the heaviest sanctions available including:

"1- Immediate removal from Damascus of our U.S. Ambassador to Syria.

"2- Immediate dismissal of all Syrian diplomats on American soil. Our Syrian American contacts tell us that the intelligence operations against Syrian American families and their families in Syria by Syrian government sympathizers on American soil have been ratcheted up to the highest level in recent history as they collect names and impose a culture of fear upon Syrian Americans and their families in Syria. This protects them and sends a clear message about with whom we will maintain diplomatic relations.

"3- Economic sanctions against the Syrian government and its henchmen. The seizure and freezing of assets connected to the leading elite of the Assad government (political, military, and security forces).

"4- Demand that military vehicles, tanks, and personnel leave the streets of Syria (not just air activity as done with Libya) and permit the free open assembly of Syrian citizens. Humanitarian disasters are continuing in towns like Dara'a and Baniyas that have been under complete siege by Assad's tanks and military personnel. Food, water, electricity, and health care has been completely cut off from the people of Dara'a, Baniyas and other towns rising to demonstrate against the Assad regime. A mass grave of democracy activists was recently found in Dara'a.

"5- Demand the opening of Syria and its streets to international media and human rights organizations.

"6- Pass Senate Resolution introduced by Senators Lieberman, Rubio and Kyl condemning the Assad Regime and urge the House to also act now to pass the strongest language possible against the Assad regime.

"7- Push the U.N to support and reach out actively and openly to the heroic groups on the ground protesting against the despotism of Assad's regime.

"8- An urgent press conference by leading elected officials in DC on Syria to demonstrate the seriousness and level of attention necessary.

"The Syrian people are calling for freedom and are paying the ultimate price for their courage. As a country based in the concepts of 'Liberty for All,' we must support the efforts of the Syrian people to lift the yoke of oppression and step out from the boot of the Assad regime."

About Save Syria Now!

Save Syria Now! is a group of Americans of Syrian descent organizing to put pressure on the United States to call for immediate action to be taken against the regime of Bashar Assad of Syria and to bring true liberty to the people of Syria. We stand with the Syrians protesting in the streets to end the tyranny of the Assad family.


Bashar-Al-Assad-150.jpg
UPDATE, MAY 18, 10:25 A.M.: U.S. officials say the Obama administration will slap sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad and six senior Syrian officials for human rights abuses over their brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

The Washington Post breaks the news on the first time the Syrian leader has been personally penalized for the actions of his security forces.

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 12, 8:42 A.M.: A prominent, Newport Beach board-certified physician in nuclear medicine is being urged to resign as the honorary consul general for Syria, whose treatment of peaceful demonstrators was just deemed "brutal" by the U.S. government Wednesday.

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And if Dr. Hazem H. Chehabi refuses to cut his ties with the current regime in Syria, he should step down from the University of California Irvine Foundation Board of Trustees, which has selected him its president-elect, it is further demanded.

Making those demands is the Syrian Emergency Task Force of Greater Los Angeles that has staged demonstrations in Orange and Los Angeles counties in support of Syria's "freedom movement" and against President Bashar al-Assad's government. A March protest was held at Chehabi's Consulate General of Syria office near the corner of San Joaquin Hills and Jamboree roads in Newport Beach.


Organizer Ammar Kahf explains the task force believes Chehabi "is representing a brutal regime" and that his government role, albeit honorary, clashes with the mission of the UCI Foundation board, which promotes the university, seeks to boost philanthropy and manages and grows the university endowment.

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UC Irvine
2010 UCI Medal Award winners Salma and Hazem Chehabi
In a letter sent to Chehabi Wednesday, the group demands that the physician "declare a public position on the Syrian regime atrocities and resign his post as Consul of Syria." (Here is the
task force letter to the Consul of Syria in Newport Beach.
)

Chehabi accepted one of those challenges.

"Personally, I am opposed to the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, and find no justification whatsoever in shooting unarmed civilians," Chehabi responded in an email to the Weekly. "I am saddened about the daily loss of life in Syria and hope to see it come to an end as quickly as possible."

He also displayed deft diplomacy when it came to his critic.

"Mr. Kahf enjoys living in a free country where he can express his opinions," Chehabi notes. "He is entitled to his opinion."

It is the opinion of many local Syrian-Americans that Chehabi is a government stooge, as pro-freedom protesters accuse the consul general and consulate staff of snapping photos of them at rallies around Southern California and passing information about them to the Syrian government's intelligence agency.

Based on these allegations, the Syrian Emergency Task Force has issued a 
call to Americans to demand Chehab's removal
from the UCI Foundation board. Officials at UCI declined to comment on the task force's demands when contacted by the Weekly.
My Voice Nation Help
84 comments
Buyestate
Buyestate

I wish you all check your spelling before you write publicly, it looks so dumb, sorry.

luchman
luchman

I had the honour to meet  Dr Chehabi and his family and I think they among the finest people in our Syrian community. 

ray
ray

you should wash your hands, you have lost your honer

usa vs. usa
usa vs. usa

To: porkythepoliticalpig   "your theories are incredibly racist and make no sense",We are all 'racist' in one form or another, even the President of the United States is racist about some things, if you want an example then why did he throw Israel under the bus the other day and then turn around and apoligize to the Israeli Prime Minister (who is a piece of crap anyway), I don't support Israel because it's an illegal state created by the United Nations. The United States supports (gives our money to) these rouge states and dictators overseas and then plays as if they are dumb, they are in cahoots with them. Is it ok for Michelle Obama to be telling me what I should eat? No, I do not thiink so. Obama lied and did not close Gitmo Prison and he said the other day that he wants to forgive over a Billion dollars in debt to a foreign nation and expand internet services overseas while cutting our services here in the USA. The United States harbors and supports terrorists right here on our own soil. "Iraq never attacked the USA, we attacked them illegally in a pre-emptive strike". The 19 hi-jackers were Saudi Nationals from Saudi Arabia not from Iraq. Why will Obama not go after George W.anker Bush/Dick Cheney/Donald Rumsfeld. I saw a story the other day buried in the paper where the Iraqi's closed the 'secret' court that convicted and hung Saddam Hussien.

We Love Syria
We Love Syria

 I was suprised to read what people who have never met Dr. Chehabi have written about him.  I happen to know Dr Chehabi for years. When you meet Dr Chehabi you would realize what a wonderful, caring, intelligent, birght, confidant and calm individual that any Syrian would look up to. Dr Chehabi  has been serving the Syrian people and community in California for years. Dr. Hazem Chehabi represents the dream and success story of every Syrian American. He is a board certified Nuclear Medicine Physician who balances his busy practice with his family life.  Dr Chehabi is married to a lovely caring and intelligent wife and has three children. He has helped build a bridge of understanding between the US and Syriawith his keen insight of both eastern and western cultures. He has been a true ambassador of the syrian people to our new home in the US.  He has demonstrated leadership at every level. Dr Chehabi and his family like all of us are very sadened by the events that are taking place in Syria.  Dr Chehabi has always been an advocate of freedom and justice in Syria.  We should not blame hard working Arab Americans for what is happening in Syria. We all stand with the Syrian people.

Amena
Amena

Mr true syrian You should change your Name to fake Syrian , because your no true for sure

ray
ray

so why dont you tell us your true name , so we can ad you to the people who are paid well by Dr chihabi 

usa vs. usa
usa vs. usa

It sure is funny how the government of United States of America, the supposed most free country in the world with all of thier Weapons of Mass Destruction that it MANUFACTURES can tell other countries that are overseas and that are sovereign nations in and of themselves how they are all violating human rights when the government themselves are violating the very human rights of it's very own citizens for protesting against raids upon them and that raided and illegally bombed a foreign nation in Iraq that never attacked the USA but they won't do anything about the very people that are attacking those countries, even Obama himself ordered that attacks because he is indiscriminently attacking Libya when Libya did nothing for that attack, they are attacking the individual tyrants of those countries. They allow these people into the USA and then want to put sanctions against the countries that the diplomats are from but they walk freely amongst us. Even though I was born in this country, this countires policies are of no 'spring chicken' effects or efforts, they have brought charges against people in thier own organizations whom they have charged with spying under the espionage act, two completely different things. The Weapons of Mass Destruction and the teargas canisters that were/are used overseas have USA markings on them from USA manufacturing plants. The cops that are supposed to be protecting people are instead attacking those very people in order to protect the corporations in the name of profits.

MahaSaleh
MahaSaleh

Salma chehabi!! You are a decent person from a good family, please put pressure on your husband to quit as Syria Consul General. Over 20 millions in Syria are suffering from this regime that your husband is part off. If you believe in God and Karma you would.

samia
samia

they are borh very decent indeed 

dima
dima

that's true

sana
sana

I am sure like all of us  they are praying for our syrian people

Amir
Amir

We should thank Salma and Hazem Chehabi for all their hard work and efforts for making the Syrian Honrary Consulate a great service to our Syrian American community in Orange County, California. The staff at the consulate are very fcurtious and professional. Dr. and Mrs Chehabi we are proud of you.

Rana
Rana

Salma Chehabi we love you and your family..

emma
emma

what a lovely successful couple

Amir
Amir

We should thank Salma and Hazem Chehabi for all their hard work andefforts for making the Syrian Honrary Consulate a great service to ourSyrian American community in Orange County, California. The staff atthe consulate are very curtious and professional. Dr. and Mrs Chehabiwe are proud of you.

Nazierhusain
Nazierhusain

Dr. Chehabi cares less about the Syrian People and like Bashar Alssad,  Chehabi would do everything in his power to stay as Syria Consul General here in US. It gives him power and status to fill his empty soul

riz
riz

some empty comments you have made about 

JANA
JANA

Love to disagree with you

Jasmin
Jasmin

She is right definately empty comments

true Syrian
true Syrian

Dr Chehabi has done more for the Syrian community in the US, than any other Syrian ambassador has done. He has been a true ambassador of the Syrian people y living the Syrian American dream of hard work and success.  He is a caring, honest, and very bright individual that any Syrian American would look up to.

Ahmedhamidd
Ahmedhamidd

He would never do it because he will lose his Diplomatic immunity and what comes with it.

True Syrian
True Syrian

I wish you guys get your facts straight first.  Dr. Chehabi is an American Citizen and a full time practicing Nuclear Medicine Physician. So he does not need Diplomatic Immunity!

Martha
Martha

 Mr. Chehabi needs to vindicate himself from all these accusations by cutting ties with the Syrian goverment. He can cry and tell us that he is not part of the Syrian regime , but until we see him part from this oppressive dictatorship, to us he is still one of them. Dr. Chehabi ARE YOU WITH US OR AGAINST US THE SYRIAN PEOPLE, that you so-call represent?? There is no middle ground when it comes to people's lives.You cant just wait on the sidelines for some to win and then join them. Be HONEST, ACT WITH DIGNITY. Don't play politics when barbaric and brutal crimes are being commited against humanity

AL
AL

Dr Chehabi responded by email as the article above states:

"Personally, I am opposed to the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, and find no justification whatsoever in shooting unarmed civilians," Chehabi responded in an email to the Weekly. "I am saddened about the daily loss of life in Syria and hope to see it come to an end as quickly as possible."

 I want to thank Dr Chehabi for his courage and honesty. Our main concern should be how to see an end to all this violence soon enshallah. Pray for our Syrian people.

Ameneh
Ameneh

very funny Dr Chihabi , playing the innocence very funny , I hope that you go to hill and ruse their 

Violet johnson
Violet johnson

What I dont understand why did UCI accept $1 million from Chehabi. knowing his family history? Does UCI need money that bad? 

mohamad
mohamad

The UCI knows the Chehabi's family history very well. Appearently they have decided to accept this generous donation from a gentleman and philanthropist. A hard working physician and a lovely husband and a father to three children.  Dr Chehabi, Syrian Americans are proud of you.

ray
ray

I wonder why that money was not giving to the Syrian people , where it was stollen from , many live on the streets 

dani
dani

they are well screened they are one of the most successful couples in the area.

Amer
Amer

He just did Laser treatment on his face last week, He is trying to cover up old age like the goverment of Syria trying to cover up all its crimes

riz
riz

Amer, maybe you should get laser surgery for your eyes because obviously you are blind to the truth.. you writing pure lies, and rumours..

Ali
Ali

Amer, You should not be making up stories and spreading rumours about somone who has served and continues to serve our Syrian American community in california and in the US full heartedly. 

sara
sara

guys you are really bad..

Susande
Susande

People like Dr. Chehabi are the reason why Alassd regyme still in place 

John4
John4

Susande People like  Dr Chehabi are the reason we have Syrian consulate in Orange County and the reason we feel proud to be Syrian.  You should visit the consulate and meet the professional and decent Syrian Americans that run it.

Faraj
Faraj

He is one of them, Dr Chehabi will never cut ties with the Syrian goverment. He needs to stop lying, he has his own stamp as Syrian goverment official.

ramez
ramez

Dr Chehabi represents our Syrian American community.  He represents the hard working syrian american that have come to the US for success and prosperity. He is a story of hard work, success and love for our Syrian people and country. Thank you Dr Chehabi for you a job well done.

Saminai
Saminai

What kind of hypocrite lives in the US the Mecca of democracy, and still supports dictatorship

iman
iman

Dr Chehabi loves the Syrian people and Syria.  I dont know where you get your false ideas from.

Rami
Rami

He needs to proof to the people that he is not an agent for the Syrian GovermentBy quiting his job as a general Counsel of Syria. othewise, everybody is going to know what a dirt bag he is 

LISA
LISA

Shame on you call this gentleman a dirt bag..

dana
dana

what a rude comment

Tania
Tania

lots of rude people here..

Yamin
Yamin

He is an agent for peace and love for the Syrian people that is the Chehabi we know and respect.. 

Rashad Al-Dabbagh
Rashad Al-Dabbagh

About time local thugs loyal to Syria's regime are exposed

ED
ED

what local thugs! this gentleman is a practicing doctor and lovely person to know.. obviously you have not met Dr Chehabi or the Chehabi family.

Sam
Sam

Dr. Chehabi Owned the following home145 Irvine Cove CirLaguna Beach, CA 92651-1041Which is worth more than $ 8 million, I woinder where how he got that money?? I'm sure he owns other properties under fake corporartions name. We need to report him.

Bassam
Bassam

Dr Chehabi has been living  in Orange county  for years.  He is a very succesful Doctor that runs a very busy medical center in Orange county.  He has trained at top US Medical centers and has worked  hard to get to the level of success that he has reached. I can only admire his ambition. We need to report him for his Syrian American achievements.

Ali
Ali

Thiefs!!!

AL
AL

Maybe he is hard working successfull and has a big mortgage!

lin
lin

I think he is jealous

Sara
Sara

I think so I know they are very decent people

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