Liberals pull candidate in St-Leonard-St-Michel riding over alleged anti-Semitic posts
The Liberal Party has revoked the candidacy of Hassan Guillet, the well-known imam who had been tapped to represent the party in the St-Leonard-St-Michel riding.
In a statement issued on Friday the party cited “insensitive comments” made by Guillet as the reason for the revocation.
“Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party have firmly stood against statements of anti-Semitism, hate, racism, islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, and all forms of discrimination,” they said. “The Liberal Party strongly condemns all forms of discrimination, and the same is always expected of our candidates.”
Guillet was announced as the candidate for the riding in March.
Earlier in the day Jewish advocacy group B’Nai Brith Canada released a statement outlining several statements made by Guillet that they called anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.
Among the statements described by B’Nai Brith were Arabic-language Facebook posts celebrating the release of Raed Salah, a Hamas-aligned activist who had accused Jews of staging the 9/11 attacks and claimed Jews “use children’s blood for baking ‘holy bread.’”
Guillet had also written posts celebrating Salah as a “jihad-fighter.” In another post Guillet wrote that “Zionists control American politics.” The posts have since been deleted.
B’Nai Brith also described a Radio Canada International interview in which Guillet called Israel an apartheid state and accused U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, of having dual loyalty because of his Judaism.
In a statement dated Thursday Guillet apologized for his past statements.
"If these statements could be considered offensive to some of my fellow citizens of Jewish faith, I apologize," he said. "My intention was not to offend anyone. The lack of sensitivity in these statements does not reflect my personality or way of being."
Guillet said he had evolved since the posts were made and disavowed all forms of "hate, racism, anti-Semitism and violence, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators or victims."
Guillet first rose to fame following the January, 2017 shooting in a Quebec City mosque that left six people dead. Guillet spoke at the funerals for three of the victims in a eulogy that went viral around the world.
In his statement Guillet said the Quebec City killings were a turning point, after which he "committed myself as an activist against hatred and violence."
The former imam also addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying "a solution must be found with dignity and respect for all. We, as Canadians, can only sympathize with the victims from all sides, but we can't impose a solution."