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Liberal MP apologizes, rescinds award to man labelled purveyor of anti-Semitism

Last Updated Aug 16, 2018 at 4:00 pm PDT

OTTAWA – A Liberal MP has apologized and rescinded a certificate of appreciation she presented last week to a man a Jewish advocacy group calls a purveyor of anti-Semitism.

Mississauga-Erin Mills MP Iqra Khalid says she was unaware of some of the views held in the past by Amin El-Maoued, the public relations chief of Palestine House, when she gave him a certificate of appreciation for his volunteer work during a barbecue in her riding.

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn sent Khalid a letter this week, demanding she rescind the certificate.

The letter alleged that El-Maoued led a July 2017 rally “laden with hate-filled and anti-Semitic slogans,” including chants of “Israel and Hitler are the same.”

After receiving the letter, Khalid says she “looked into the matter extensively” and concluded that El-Maoued’s past views were contrary to what she stands for and inconsistent with her efforts to “promote diversity and inclusion.”

As a representative of the federal government, she says she has a particular responsibility to condemn anti-Semitism.

“I will have more thorough due diligence in the future in the allocation of these certificates and I apologize for this mistake,” Khalid said in a written statement Thursday.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in Canadian society. It is against what I stand for and is against the work I have done as an MP to promote diversity and inclusion.”

While Khalid said she was unaware of El-Maoued’s views, this is not the first time she has been criticized for associating with him. She was denounced last April for giving El-Maoued another award on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at an event that featured a Palestinian archbishop who had purportedly defended terrorists and suicide bombings.

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.”

Khalid is best known for initiating a motion last year calling on the House of Commons to condemn Islamophobia and all other forms of discrimination. Conservatives and other critics argued that the non-binding motion would limit free speech, and the resulting furor led to hate mail and death threats directed at Khalid.