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Passport Canada has issued an apology after informing a 90-year-old woman that she could not list Palestine as her country of birth on her new passport.

The department was forced to retract and explain its clerical error after the elderly woman's granddaughter shared the incident on social media platform, TikTok, which has garnered over a million views and thousands of angry comments.

Shared in two parts, the granddaughter, simply identified as "Blair" for safety reasons, shares a recording of the Service Canada voicemail her grandmother received and in another video, claims that Canada is "erasing the Palestinian identity".

Phone call from Service Canada

In her first video, Blair shows that her grandmother's current passport has "El Bassa, Palestine" listed as her place of birth - but upon renewal, was told that it would simply read as "El Bassa" without mentioning Palestine. Also, that even during the online application, Palestine was not listed as a place of birth in the dropdown options.

In the second video, Blair shares a recording of the voice mail from Service Canada mentioning that the change was being made per their policy.

Blair then angrily exclaims that, "According to the government of Canada, she (her grandmother) was born nowhere!". Blair goes on to explain that El Bassa was a Palestinian village that was raided "by Zionists terrorists in 1948 and was almost destroyed" and that the "government of Canada is perpetuating their narrative", "whitewashing history" and "agreeing with them that nothing was there, that Palestine and Palestinians never existed."

As per Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), listing Palestine as one's place of birth can be done upon special request for individuals who were born there before May 14, 1948. This is a policy that has been implemented for decades.

Marc Miller, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister, took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to respond to Blair's viral videos:

"I'd like to correct recent claims circulating on social media related to the selection of Palestine as the country of birth on the Canadian passport," Miller wrote, before going on to confirm that there have been no recent changes to the aforementioned policy.

In an interview with CBC, Blair revealed that after Miller issued his statement, a Passport Canada agent called her grandmother and apologised. The agent also assured Blair's grandmother that she would be issued a new passport that would say "Palestine".

Agent tells her grandmother to list her birthplace as "Israel"

Blair said that before all this happened, the passport application with "El Bassa, Palestine" listed as her grandmother's birthplace was approved during a January 30 in-person application in Kitchener, Ontario. So, they were taken aback when they received the voicemail.

To make matters worse though, when her grandmother called Service Canada back to ask why Palestine would not be listed on her passport, not only was she told that it was policy, but the agent suggested that she could list "Israel" as her birthplace instead.

"(The suggestion) is not only insensitive, but is a completely inappropriate and traumatising suggestion to someone born in Palestine before 1948," added Blair.

Similar incident in the UK

Back in 2021, a Jerusalem-born Israeli woman named Ayelet Balaban, whose father was British had a shocking experience when her new UK passport listed her birthplace as the "Occupied Palestinian Territories".

The UK Home Office went on to apologise to the woman. A spokesperson said: "We apologise for this error and are urgently investigating how this has occurred. We will contact Ms. Balaban about the issuing of a new passport showing the correct place of birth."