OTTAWA – A Bloc Quebecois MP was upbraided for sending all of her colleagues in the House of Commons an anti-Israel email that paid tribute to groups listed in Canada as terrorist organizations.
Maria Mourani forwarded all 308 MPs an email with links to numerous articles and images that accuse the Jewish state of terrorism, question its legitimacy and glorify violence against it.
The note earned her a rebuke Wednesday from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, from the Jewish-rights organization B’nai Brith and a caution from her leader to be more careful.
In one video link there’s a graphic of a heart surrounding the image of the political leader of Hamas, while other videos show numerous flattering images of people draped in the group’s iconic green bandana.
Canada’s list of terrorist organizations includes three groups – Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade – that receive laudatory treatment in the linked messages.
Mourani explained that she had not examined the entire contents of the email, which included hundreds of pictures, along with a handful of videos, newspaper articles and blog entries.
After her email raised eyebrows on Parliament Hill, Mourani sent her colleagues a more personal note in which she offered no apologies.
She stressed in an interview with a Montreal newspaper, however, that she did not support what she described as hateful propaganda.
“My goal was to show the impact not only on the people but also on the imagination of a large part of the population,” the Montreal MP wrote to her colleagues.
“This violence feeds tension and extremism and cannot lead to a lasting solution.
“As some people have noted . . . violent and hateful propaganda is emerging that unfortunately is spreading throughout the Middle East and around the world.”
Bloc officials said Mourani would have more to say Thursday in a speech to the Commons.
Harper raised the issue twice Wednesday in response to questions from her party leader.
Gilles Duceppe twice complained about a lack of federal loan guarantees for struggling forestry companies – and the prime minister twice turned the debate to Mourani.
“The Bloc leader should condemn his own members for having circulated propaganda which promotes terrorist organizations,” Harper said.
“The Bloc leader should unequivocally state that singing the praises of terrorist groups isn’t part of Quebec’s values.”
Duceppe said his MP should have checked the email’s contents more carefully, but he said he would not discipline her and he considered the matter closed.
“She distanced herself from those hateful remarks,” Duceppe said.
“She clearly did not support the things mentioned there. However, I think she should have displayed a little more rigour.”
Mourani forwarded an email that was intended to help solicit charitable donations for food, medicine and shelter for the people in Gaza.
More than 1,300 Gazans were killed – over half of them civilians – and thousands more were wounded in an Israeli offensive aimed at halting Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.
The email contains hundreds of images of the carnage in Gaza, including severed limbs, bombed-out buildings, and the bodies of dead children being held by grieving parents.
One dead baby is draped in Hamas green. Also clad in green are other children in one of the numerous images showing people tossing rocks at Israeli tanks.
The email includes a blog entry that argues that the Israeli offensive fit the definition of terrorism because it used violence to pressure Palestinian civilians into renouncing Hamas.
The Lebanese-Canadian MP has been an ardent and controversial critic of Israel.
She was forced to apologize in 2006 when she accused Israel of committing war crimes during the bombing of Lebanon.
B’nai Brith Canada said Mourani should be more responsible in the future.
“Maria Mourani has admitted that she failed to watch all the videos that were linked to the email she disseminated to fellow parliamentarians,” said Frank Dimant, the group’s executive vice president.
“This irresponsible action makes her an unwitting tool in the spread of dangerous hate propaganda.”