By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
A PROMINENT religious leader yesterday called on Haitian pastors in the country to urge their members not to follow anyone who encourages a “blatant disrespect” of the laws of the Bahamas.
Simeon Hall, pastor emeritus of New Covenant Baptist Church, said given the attention that US representative Daphne Campbell has received in her call for a boycott of the Bahamas, the country must position itself for serious national confrontation in the coming weeks.
Mrs Campbell held a press conference in Florida last week, vowing to stop at nothing until tourists and international businesses boycott the Bahamas because of new immigration policies that came into effect on November 1. Immigration officials conducted raids and arrests in parts of New Providence the day the policies came into effect.
Mrs Campbell, who was born in Haiti, is a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives.
Bishop Hall said: “I want to call on pastors in the Haitian community to encourage their members to obey the Bahamas’ laws.
“I don’t think they should follow anyone who would incite the spirit of ingratitude in the Bahamas. This country has been kind to the Haitian community. Any assessments done at this point would show that we have been accommodating to them. They should not follow anyone who would blatantly disrespect our laws or us.
“This should go for not only Haitians, but Europeans, Jamaicans and whomever else comes here illegally.”
The bishop added: “If some members of the Haitian community, be they here in the Bahamas or in the United States, were to continue to do and say things that shows disrespect for Bahamian law, then I believe we are headed for serious national confrontations.”
He said the Bahamas government should continue to enforce the law while making every effort to operate humanely.
On Monday, Mrs Campbell, who proclaimed to be a “voice for the voiceless,” said she took her position after seeing a video showing Haitian children facing deportation to Haiti being led away during recent immigration arrests.
She said Bahamian government officials have one week to apologise and reverse the new policies, or she will travel here with a delegation to address them face-to-face.
However, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell shot back, dismissing the threat, when contacted by The Tribune for comment earlier this week.
“She’s a fool,” he said. “Anyone who talks about boycotting the Bahamas, I can’t have any time for them. That’s absolute rot. It’s amazing the stupidity that’s circulating around this. It’s just astounding.”
Opposition Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Hubert Chipman also sided with the government saying the Florida politician was “totally out of order”.
However, Jetta Baptiste, president of the Haitian Bahamian Society of the Bahamas, has said that she supports Mrs Campbell “1,000 per cent” because the Haitian community is tired of the political games that have been played over the years.