Campaign Against Antisemitism has called for the former director and trustee of Islamic Relief Worldwide to be banned from serving as a charity trustee in future after numerous antisemitic comments that he made on social media were uncovered.
The Times has reported that Heshmat Khalifa, who ran Islamic Relief Worldwide, Britain’s largest Muslim charity that received some £570 million in income over the past five years from the United Nations, the European Commission and British taxpayers, posted derogatory comments about Jews on Facebook.
In more than a dozen posts in 2014 and 2015, Mr Khalifa called Jews “the grandchildren of monkeys and pigs” and threw antisemitic insults against Egypt’s President, calling him a “pimp son of the Jews”, a “Zionist pig”, a “Zionist traitor” and a “Zionist criminal”. President el-Sisi deposed his predecessor, Mohammed Morsi, who was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mr Khalifa, who was born and educated in Egypt and became a British citizen in 2005, wrote the comments in Arabic. He also used his page to promote the charity and was friends on the platform with other charity trustees.
Mr Khalifa, who has been with the charity since 1999, resigned after The Times confronted the organisation with his comments.
The charity reportedly said that it “sincerely regrets any offence caused” by the comments, which “contravene the values and principles of Islamic Relief Worldwide”, which is a “purely humanitarian organisation with no political affiliations” and worked to help people “of all faiths and none, without discrimination by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation”.
It continued: “Heshmat Khalifa has resigned from the board of trustees of Islamic Relief Worldwide with immediate effect. He will also play no further part in any other Islamic Relief boards. We reject and condemn terrorism and believe all forms of discrimination – including antisemitism – are unacceptable.”
Mr Khalifa regretted the “language and sentiments expressed”, saying that his comments were “my expressions of frustration with the political regime, rather than beliefs that I hold,” and added: “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.”
It is understood that the Charity Commision has opened an investigation.
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “It is appalling that Mr Khalifa was able to lead for so long one of Britain’s largest charities whilst expressing brazenly antisemitic views. Islamic Relief has questions to answer about how this went unnoticed. We hope that the Charity Commission will now act to ban him from acting as a charity trustee ever again.”