Representatives from more than a dozen British Columbia mosques and Islamic associations have sent a letter to Premier David Eby calling for the minister of post-secondary education to be removed from her role.
They also say no NDP MLA or candidate for the next election is welcome in their sacred spaces until the premier takes action against Selina Robinson.
She has been facing heavy criticism and calls to resign since last week when she remarked in an online panel discussion hosted by B’nai Brith Canada that Israel was founded on a “crappy piece of land.”
She has since apologized in a social media post, saying her comments were “disrespectful,” and she had been referring to the land having limited natural resources.
She said in the post that her remarks diminished “the connection that Palestinians also have to the land,” and she apologized unreservedly.
Eby has said that Robinson’s comments were wrong, hurtful and increase division in the province, but he did not immediately respond to questions regarding whether he considered firing her.
The letter from Muslim groups, dated Friday, says neither Robinson’s apology nor Eby’s response address the serious harm done to members of the community and argues Robinson has shown “blatant bigotry” that’s tarnished the reputation of the province and the NDP.
“Ultimately, what it comes down to is, does the BC NDP condone these attitudes toward any equity-deserving group, let alone Palestinian Arab and Muslim communities that are already at greater risk of harm,” the representatives asked in the letter.
Haroon Khan, a director with Vancouver’s Al Masjid Al Jamia mosque, was one of 18 people to sign the letter and said Robinson’s comments were painful to hear.
“We’re told this is a crappy little place, that didn’t really mean much of anything. It means everything, it means everything, to so many people. And the sacrifice and loss that’s been happening every day is on our minds,” he said.
“And her comments were deeply insulting, disturbing and very upsetting, and really unhelpful.”
Video of the discussion streamed on YouTube also shows Robinson lamenting a lack of knowledge about the origins of modern Israel, saying the land on which it was founded “had nothing on it,” before adding that there were “several hundred thousand people.”
Khan said it should be left up to voters to decide if Robinson remains an MLA, but that she should not be a minister representing the province.
He said the community is open to meeting with politicians but is no longer willing to be part of what he considers “platitudes.”
“We’re not interested in any photo ops, we’re not interested in allowing politicians to check a box saying that they’ve met with our communities,” he said.
connection Palestinians also have to the land. I regret what I said and I apologize without reservation.
— Selina Robinson (@selinarobinson) February 2, 2024
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2024