A Canadian lawmaker rescinded an award on Thursday for an activist affiliated with a controversial Palestinian community center who participated in what critics called a “hate rally.”
Iqra Khalid, a member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party, apologized for her “mistake” in granting a Certificate of Appreciation to Amin El-Maoued, the public relations chief of Palestine House.
The group — which describes itself as “an educational, social and cultural center of the Palestinian Canadian Community” — was cut off from receiving government funding in 2012 due to what officials called a “pattern of support for extremism.” This reportedly included hosting events honoring the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terrorist organization responsible for multiple suicide bombings in Israel, and celebrating the release of hundreds of convicted terrorists.
In a petition launched on Wednesday, the civil rights group B’nai Brith Canada shared a video showing El-Maoued participating in a July 22, 2017 rally in Mississauga, Ontario.
He is seen holding a megaphone used by protesters to shout various slogans, including, “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammed is returning.” The Arabic saying refers to a 7th-century battle fought by the Islamic prophet Muhammad against Jewish tribes near Medina, and is often invoked by Islamist terrorist groups including Hamas and Hezbollah.
Other chants included, “Israel and Hitler are the same,” and, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which refers to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, in place of Israel.
“As an elected official, you have a responsibility to take a principled stand against the purveyors of racism, antisemitism, and discrimination and not enable them by rewarding their behaviour,” read the petition to Khalid, which as of Friday had 2,485 signatures. “Antisemites, racists and bigots of all sorts do not merit recognition from the Canadian government or its elected officials.”
The lawmaker responded the following day by saying that she “was not aware of some of Amin El-Maoued’s past views,” and observed that “as a representative of the government especially I must condemn them.”
“I will have more thorough due diligence in the future in the allocation of these certificates,” she affirmed.
El-Maoued indicated in a statement on Thursday that he did not plan or lead the demonstration in question, but acknowledged that he was “at some rallies standing for Palestinian rights.”
“Some statements made at those rallies are statements I do not stand for, agree with and I whole heartedly condemn,” he wrote. “They are the same statements that were mentioned by B’nai Brith organization and media articles writing about this.”
“I have condemned in the past and will continue to condemn anti-Semitism in Canada,” El-Maoued said. “Yes, I am Canadian of Palestinian origin. I will not apologize for my heritage. However, I wholly stand with all communities in their legitimate struggle against racism and discrimination, including our brothers and sisters in the Jewish Community.”