Jewish group accuses Liberal MP Iqra Khalid of giving award to purveyor of anti-Semitism

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid makes an announcement in Ottawa on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. The Canadian Press/ Patrick Doyle

OTTAWA – A Liberal MP is under fire for presenting a “certificate of appreciation” to a man one Jewish advocacy group labels a purveyor of anti-Semitism.

B’nai Brith Canada has started a petition demanding that Mississauga-Erin Mills MP Iqra Khalid apologize and rescind the federal certificate she presented last week to Amin El-Maoued, the public relations chief of Palestine House.

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The Jewish group accuses El-Maoued of 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.”

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The B’nai Brith Canada petition asserts that “anti-Semites, racists and bigots of all sorts do not merit recognition from the Canadian government or its elected officials.”

It demands that Khalid, who could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday, rescind the certificate and apologize to Canadians for what it calls her “insensitive and dangerous actions.”

B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn made the same demand Tuesday in a letter to Khalid, to which the group says the MP has not responded.

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“It is not only disappointing, but frightening that you would see fit to reward his dalliances with anti-Semitic discourse and incitement, while simultaneously ostensibly working to eliminate all forms of discrimination in Canada,” Mostyn wrote.

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“There is simply no reconciling these two worlds. Presenting El-Maoued with official recognition on behalf of the Canadian government both sanitizes and normalizes the anti-Semitic rhetoric and attitudes that he has purveyed and facilitated.”

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer criticized the Liberal MP on Thursday, saying:”anyone who would recognize or in any way give a commendation to someone who would make those kinds of comments.”

Khalid received hate mail and death threats last year after initiating a motion 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.

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 had purportedly defended terrorists and suicide bombings.

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