Rana Zaman stepped down as a candidate for the party in June, roughly a year after posting a string of tweets that suggested Israeli forces were “aiming higher than 6 million” in their bid to wipe out the Palestinian people. “I wonder if #Israel borrowed this from the #Nazis after they saw how successful they were?” she wrote, adding, “#Gaza is the new #Auschwitz.”
The tweet was later deleted but had been captured in a screen shot by Jewish group B’nai Brith Canada.
The commission issued a press release on Friday saying it had “formally rescinded” an award it gave to Zaman. At the time of the award, the release said, its committee “was unaware of public statements made by Ms. Zaman that were directly contrary to the principles of the award.”
A spokesperson for the commission declined to confirm on the record whether the decision to strip the award was tied to Zaman’s tweets. The press release declined to mention which award was actually given to Zama. Earlier press releases that named the award recipients were no longer accessible on the human rights commission’s website.
However, a press release from the Nova Scotia government dated Dec. 10, 2019 named Zaman as the recipient of an “Individual Award” for her “extraordinary advocacy efforts in bringing together diverse communities in Halifax.” The annual awards are part of an effort to “demonstrate a commitment to advancing human rights and enhancing equity and inclusion in their community,” the press release said.
Jewish advocacy groups the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Atlantic Jewish Council (AJC) commended the decision on Friday.
“This decision makes clear that people who engage in this type of hateful discourse disqualify themselves as human rights advocates,” the groups wrote in a joint statement.
Zaman, a social activist and Muslim who has spoken publicly about fighting Islamophobia, was running for election in the Nova Scotia riding of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. The NDP lost the seat in the October election to Liberal incumbent Darren Fisher.
In a series of tweets posted between June 2 and June 4, 2018, Zaman voiced her outrage at the shooting of Palestinian protesters. “If Israel is so advanced then why can’t they avoid shooting defenceless paramedics and journalists, unless they’re killing innocent people deliberately!” she wrote on June 3. “Israel’s injustice and arrogance can no longer be defended and people are wise to Israel’s tired old rhetoric.”
Zaman later apologized for the comments, saying they were “inappropriate, hurtful and sadly may be perceived as anti-Semitic.” She said she had reached out to members of the Jewish community in a bid to make amends.
Zaman had long been an advocate against Islamophobic online comments. After the New Zealand mosque shooting earlier this year in which 51 people were killed, Zaman wrote an op-ed in a Nova Scotia newspaper that said social media companies “need to be held accountable for allowing their platforms to be used to target minority groups with hate speech.”
“We need to hold hateful people accountable,” she said in Halifax newspaper The Coast. “Revise hate speech laws—currently it’s almost impossible for people to be charged and convicted.”