Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

UN hits out at UK’s biggest Muslim charity over ‘loathsome’ anti-Semitic posts

Heshmat Khalifa, a leader of the Islamic Relief Worldwide charity, was forced to quit over offensive Facebook posts

A leader of Islamic Relief Worldwide was forced to quit over more than half a dozen Facebook posts that were offensive to Jews Bloomberg
A leader of Islamic Relief Worldwide was forced to quit over more than half a dozen Facebook posts that were offensive to Jews Bloomberg

The UN has condemned the anti-Semitic views expressed by a leader of Britain's biggest Muslim charity and described the posts he made on social media as “loathsome”.

The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations, Miguel Moratinos, said he had been dismayed by the opinions expressed by Heshmat Khalifa, who had been a trustee of the Islamic Relief Worldwide charity.

“The high representative unequivocally condemns such loathsome social media posts by a high-profile member of the management team at Islamic Relief and which remained in public display since 2014 before being recently removed,” a statement read.

It emerged earlier this month that Mr Khalifa had written anti-Semitic messages on Facebook in a tirade that lasted from 2014 to 2015.

The posts were removed only when the hate-filled messages were revealed in The Times.

Mr Khalifa, 63, described Jews in an extremely offensive manner and was abusive towards Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, a screen grab image of the messages showed. He also said the Palestinian militant group Hamas was “the purest" such movement in history.

Mr Khalifa resigned shortly after the posts were uncovered.

“It is imperative for civil society organisations and faith-based actors to exhibit a zero-tolerance policy towards anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination online and offline by putting in place effective measures,” Mr Moratinos said.

A representative for Islamic Relief Worldwide referred The National to previous statements made by the charity over Mr Khalifa’s conduct.

“Following the publication of Heshmat Khalifa’s social media posts ... Islamic Relief reiterates its strong condemnation of the offensive views expressed within them,” the statement read.

“These have no place in our organisation. We are appalled by the hateful comments he made and unreservedly condemn all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism.

“[Mr Khalifa] will also play no further part in any other Islamic Relief boards.”

Islamic Relief was among 85 organisations designated as terrorist groups by the UAE Cabinet in 2014. According to a freedom of information request, Britain's Foreign & Commonwealth Office believed it "had issues" over terrorist allegations.

The charity has in the past been forced to deny links to Islamist extremist groups.

Updated: July 30, 2020 07:37 PM

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