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Dr. Hazem Chehabi, Prominent Nuclear Medicine Physician and Syria Consul General, Urged to Cut Ties With “Brutal” Regime or Quit UCI Foundation Board


By Matt Coker, Thu., May 12 2011 @ 8:42AM
       ​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.
     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.

Dr. Hazem Chehab

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.

​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 theWeekly. “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.
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