Iqra Khalid story goes from bad to worse

The Jaspal Atwal affair is really a simple story for all of its up and downs. How did he get invited to an event in India that the PM would be at, even though he’d been previously convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian politician?

That’s easy. Because he was part of the broader Liberal family. A former executive member of a Liberal riding association, a guy who likely gets the vote out for them, someone who’s previously stated he’s had one-on-one conversations with Trudeau.

The bigger question then is why did the Liberals let Atwal into the fold in the first place? Why do they pal around with radicals?

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid, who was under fire last year for her advocacy of the controversial motion 103, is now facing similar questions.

Conservative politicians are demanding answers as to why she introduced Palestinian Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna, who is a supporter and apologist for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, at an event in Mississauga over the weekend.

“A week after the gassing of Syrian children, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid brought greetings to one of Assad’s worst apologists on behalf of Justin Trudeau. Canada needs an answer why this happened,” Conservative Senator Linda Frum posted to social media, leading a charge that was later echoed by MPs in Question Period.

Khalid’s response? “Like any MP, I engage with a diverse array of individuals, stakeholders and groups in my community – many of them I don’t agree with,” she posted online, adding “I’m proud that our government has forcefully condemned the Assad regime and I too condemn in the strongest of terms the recent chemical attacks. I’ve worked hard on these issues in my subcommittee on international human rights.”

The blowback was heavy – with critics noting that it’s a bit much to hide behind the cloak of “diverse” stakeholders as justification for posing in smiling photos with questionable individuals.

And while Hanna is the one getting all of the attention, it was the man he and Khalid had gathered to honour who deserves a bit more coverage as well. It was at that same event that Khalid gave out an award to Amin El-Maoued, who does public relations for the group Palestine House, which lost federal funding in 2012 due to its “pattern of support for extremism,” as the federal government put it.

“I met brother Amin about three years ago,” Khalid says in a video of last weekend’s event that was removed from online but reposted by my colleague Candice Malcolm.

If she’s known him for a while, does she know about his less than flattering activities? El-Maoued appears to have played a leading role in a protest last summer that was investigated by Peel Regional police for anti-Semitic chants.

B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group, posted video of a July 2017 rally where Palestinian activists gathered for what at first appears to be solely political reasons. But the video quickly devolves into calls for violence. One of the chants, according to a translation put together by B’nai Brith, states: “Remember Khaybar, oh you Jews, the Army of Muhammad will return!”

The Battle of Khaybar is historically recognized as a conflict during the life of Muhammad where 1,500 Muslim warriors triumphed in a conflict against 10,000 Jews. (The battle was one of many overseen by Muhammad but apparently he wasn’t able to personally participate on this occasion as he was in the midst of a three day migraine.)

The bloodshed on both sides could have been massive but the Jews were so taken by surprise they surrendered early on, giving up their land and wealth as part of the terms.

And this is what protesters on the streets of Toronto want to revive?! El-Maoued can be seen holding the megaphone in one of the videos.

This new event that Conservative MPs are asking about is in fact an annual occurrence. El-Maoued was honoured not just this year but last year also. It was in between these two events that El-Maoued apparently played a leadership role in the rally.

“It was investigated and deemed that there was no criminal offence,” Peel Regional Police Media Relations Officer Baljit Saini told the Sun on Wednesday. “They viewed all the video and they looked at the totality of the investigation.” While they determined it didn’t meet the Criminal Code definition of public incitement of hatred, that doesn’t mean this is a chant you want to be making.

Here’s where things get really interesting. On September 22, El-Maoued was honoured by Khalid at an event for her own riding association. On Facebook, El-Maoued posted photos of his family with Khalid, writing that they received the certificates of appreciation “for our continuous work and effort towards the Mississauga – Erin Mills riding.” This award was given out only a month after reports surfaced that the rally was being investigated by police.

It’s hard to believe Khalid didn’t know about this. If she did, did she care?

Even assuming she didn’t know, it’s not like nobody had raised red flags to her before. B’nai Brith brought concerns to Khalid earlier in 2017 over her association with El-Maoued. Yet she went on to give the man two subsequent awards.

Looks like this is the company Iqra Khalid keeps.

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora

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