Islamic Relief official resigns over antisemitic Facebook posts

A member of Islamic Relief’s Board of Trustees has resigned after The Times uncovered antisemitic social media posts he had made.

Heshmat Khalifa will play no further part in any other Islamic Relief boards, the charity confirmed.

In Facebook posts published in 2014 and 2015, Khalifa labelled Israeli authorities as “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs.” He also called Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a “pimp son of the Jews.”

Khalifa, a 63 year old originally from Egypt, focused his attacks on Sisi who came to power in a bloody 2013 coup that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

He also praised the Gaza-based Palestinian organisation, Hamas, as “the purest resistance movement in modern history.” He said that declaring its armed wing a terrorist organisation was a “shameful disgrace to all Muslims.”

Khalifa, who was a trustee and director of Islamic Relief Worldwide, resigned after The Times confronted the global aid charity with the comments he made on his Facebook page.

A British citizen since 2005, he has held senior roles with the charity or its overseas branches since 1999. Until a few days ago he was chairman of Islamic Relief Australia and a director of its branches in Germany and South Africa.

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Heshmat Khalifa

Mr Khalifa told The Times that he was sorry for publishing the posts and regretted the “language and sentiments expressed,” which were unacceptable. He said that his comments were “my expressions of frustration with the political regime, rather than beliefs that I hold.”

He said: “I did not intend to insult the Jewish community and neither do I hold views which are antisemitic. I have dedicated much of my life’s work to promoting tolerance and freedom of religion and beliefs.”

Commenting on the issue, Islamic Relief said in a statement: “We are sorry to say that posts on Mr Khalifa’s personal social media account in 2014 and 2015, which IRW was first made aware of on July 16, 2020, contravene the values and principles of Islamic Relief Worldwide. Islamic Relief Worldwide sincerely regrets any offence caused.

“For his part, Mr Khalifa has acknowledged that these posts were unacceptable, and has apologised for falling short of the strict standards expected by our Code of Conduct.

“Islamic Relief Worldwide is a purely humanitarian organisation with no political affiliations. We work to uphold the highest humanitarian standards of neutrality, impartiality and independence, assisting people of all faiths and none, without discrimination by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

“We reject and condemn terrorism and believe that all forms of discrimination – including anti-Semitism – are unacceptable. These values are fundamental to our organisation, our donors and the people we serve.”

The Charity Commission has opened a compliance case into Islamic Relief and said it had asked “for a response to these serious allegations.”

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