The consultant whose history of multiple violent and antisemitic remarks raised alarms in Ottawa has been suspended from Twitter.
But it only happened after an interparliamentary hearing where social media companies were criticized for being too lenient on hate speech.
Laith Marouf’s organization, the Community Media Advocacy Centre, was previously awarded a $133,000 grant from the federal government to offer anti-racism training to media organizations.
The grant was withdrawn in August, as Marouf’s graphic threats against Jews gained wide attention. One of his Twitter accounts was previously suspended, but he managed to open two more accounts under alternate handles.
Now, the company has suspended Marouf’s ability to tweet.
The move came after an Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism, including current and former members of government from Canada, the United States, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel and the European Union met last week in Washington D.C. to question social media companies.
At the hearing, Michael Levitt, a former MP and CEO of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre grilled Twitter’s spokesperson about Marouf’s continued appearance on the social media app.
“So, an individual who it seems should not be up with another account, now has the ability to preach to his followers. But Twitter likes to go out and approach some of the organizations around the table today, asking us to please keep you informed, be mindful when we see hate online, but we can’t do it when accounts go up restricted,” Levitt said to Michelle Austin, director of public policy for Twitter Canada.
“So, I’m just wondering with all of this going on, how you feel we can be allies whether it’s the government, the NGOs, the advocates in the room, the special envoys, how can we be protecting when in this situation an individual is allowed to go back online, restricted, so that we’ve got no clue where he’s tweeting.”
Austin pointed out that the Canadian government had funded Marouf, and that after the public outcry about his tweets, the account was closed.
“It’s a mistake the second account is up and it’s restricted,” she said.
In a video released Sept. 19, on the website Real People’s Media—which covers First Nations politics—Marouf responded and linked the Palestinian cause with the struggle of Indigenous peoples.
“Can a Palestinian or Arab or Muslin or Indigenous person express their disgust with those who condone, aid and commit genocide against their people on Twitter? They want us to be ‘civilized’ while they are genociding (sic) our peoples live on air,” Marouf said in a statement on the website.
Marouf encouraged viewers to contribute to a legal defense fund that would oppose Heritage Canada and other government agencies’ adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. The federal government adopted the definition in 2019.
“I ask viewers to support unfiltered and uncensored voices in Canada and take a stand against Zionist silencing and defamation campaigns,” he said.