Sida-funded Muslim charity caught up in anti-Semitism row

Sida-funded Muslim charity caught up in anti-Semitism row
The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) is facing pressure to review its support for Islamic Relief Worldwide after senior charity representatives were found to have shared anti-Semitic content on social media.

Two trustees have resigned and most of the board has been replaced at the charity, which is one of Sida’s strategic humanitarian partner organisations.

Göran Holmqvist, Sida’s director of humanitarian assistance for the Middle East and Asia, told Radio Sweden:

Obviously for Sida, these expressions that have been revealed of anti-Semitism and support for violence are completely unacceptable. We have been in contact with the organisation and as we enter now into a period to prepare a new agreement – possibly – with Islamic Relief, we will ask all the relevant questions and find out more.

In July, The Times of London found that then trustee and director Heshmat Khalifa had called Jews "grandchildren of monkeys and pigs" on social media. He also labelled Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi a "pimp son of the Jews" and refered to Hamas as "the purest resistance movement in modern history". Most of the posts were made in 2014 and 2015.

Khalifa was replaced by another trustee, Almoutaz Tayara, who in turn resigned after The Times reported that he had described Israel as the "Zionist enemy" and praised Hamas leaders as "great men" who responded to the "divine and holy call of the Muslim Brotherhood". 

In an interview with Radio Sweden, Magnus Ranstorp, a research director at the Swedish Defence University, said Sida should review its vetting processes and reconsider its support Islamic Relief Worldwide, which Ranstorp and other international researchers have claimed is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The claim is disputed by Islamic Relief Sweden. Its chair, Lamia El Amri, who is also vice chair of the international organisation’s board of trustees, did not want take part in a recorded interview but responded to Radio Sweden’s questions by email.

She called Ranstorp’s allegations false and insisted that Islamic Relief opposes all forms of discrimination. She added: "We hope, of course, that our collaboration with Sida to reach people in difficult humanitarian crises and hard-to-reach areas can continue."

Source: sverigesradio.se

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