Politics

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid apologizes for giving award to alleged anti-Semite

A Liberal MP is rescinding a community service award she gave to the public relations chief of Palestine House and is apologizing for bestowing the recognition in the first place after an outcry from the Canadian Jewish community.

B'nai Brith Canada had launched a petition demanding Mississauga-Erin Mills MP apologize, rescind award

B'nai Brith Canada succeeded in getting Liberal MP Iqra Khalid to rescind the award and apologize. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

A Liberal MP is rescinding a community service award she gave to the public relations chief of Palestine House and is apologizing for bestowing the recognition in the first place after an outcry from the Canadian Jewish community.

"I was not aware of some of Amin El Maoued's past views — and only he can speak to them — but we all must stand against anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its forms," Khalid said in a statement.

"As a representative of the government especially I must condemn them, and rescind the volunteer certificate given to Amin El Maoued.

"I will have more thorough due diligence in the future in the allocation of these certificates and I apologize for this mistake."

The Mississauga-Erin Mills MP gave the volunteer appreciation award to El-Maoued last week but swiftly came under fire by B'nai Brith Canada over El-Maoued's history and past alleged association with anti-Semitism.

The Jewish advocacy organization launched a petition asking Khalid to take back the award and apologize over what it said was El-Maoued's role in leading a July 2017 rally "laden with hate-filled and anti-Semitic slogans," including chants of "Israel and Hitler are the same."

Palestine House, which describes itself as "an educational, social and cultural centre of the Palestinian-Canadian Community," lost all federal funding in 2012. The Conservative government at the time cited what it called a "pattern of support for extremism."

The B'nai Brith Canada petition said "anti-Semites, racists and bigots of all sorts do not merit recognition from the Canadian government or its elected officials."

"Antisemitism has no place in Canadian society," Khalid said. "It is against what I stand for, and is against the work I have done as an MP to promote diversity and inclusion

"Following correspondence between B'nai Brith Canada and my office with regards to a barbecue volunteer appreciation certificate given last week, I have looked into the matter extensively."

B'nai Brith Canada's petition also points out that El Maoued posted a message to his Facebook page earlier in January thanking Khalid for inviting him to her home, where he was presented with a birthday cake. A video contained in the posting shows the two gathered with others, singing and clapping. 

Khalid was criticized last April for giving El Maoued another award on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at an event that featured a Palestinian archbishop who purportedly had defended terrorists and suicide bombings.

CBC News has reached out to El Maoued through Palestinian House and his Facebook page but has yet to receive a response.

Michael Mostyn, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, told CBC News he was satisfied with the MP's decision to apologize and take the award back.

"I think it's very important that she put out a statement like this," he said. "Certainly she's retracted the certificate of appreciation to Mr. El Maoued. She has apologized for doing so, she's acknowledged that it is important to speak out against anti-Semitism and condemn those that are engaged in it and she is specifically condemning this individual.

"All of those are very positive."

With files from The Canadian Press

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