Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

British charity regulator examining IRW founder over Yazidi ‘slur’

Hany El Banna apologised for Yazidi ‘devil worship’ remarks

Hany El Banna, the founder of Islamic Relief Worldwide, referred to members of the Yazidi religion, many of whom were murdered and captured by ISIS, as 'devil worshippers'.
Hany El Banna, the founder of Islamic Relief Worldwide, referred to members of the Yazidi religion, many of whom were murdered and captured by ISIS, as 'devil worshippers'.

Britain's charity watchdog is investigating remarks made by the founder of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) referring to the persecuted Yazidi people as “devil worshippers”.

Yazidi Nobel laureate Nadia Murad called on world leaders to condemn the language used by Hany El Banna, also chairman of the UK’s Muslim Charities Forum, prompting an apology on Twitter hours later.

The Charity Commission has confirmed to The National it is investigating Dr El Banna’s comments, and as a result action could be taken against both IRW and the Muslim Charities Forum.

“We will be assessing this information to consider any regulatory response. We are unable to comment further at this time," a

The watchdog presently has an ongoing compliance case against IRW after three directors were forced to step down for making inappropriate comments involving anti-Semitism and support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Video of Dr El Banna’s remarks was posted in September, only five days after IRW announced an independent review into the conduct of the charity's trustees and senior executives.

“I apologise unreservedly for offence caused by unfortunate use of words when referring to Yazidi people in this video. I hope people listen to the full video which preaches tolerance & support towards my Yazidi brothers & sisters & other targeted groups," Dr El Banna declared.

Ms Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist who in 2018 won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work tackling sexual violence in war zones, had told The National Dr El Banna’s words were "hateful".

"It is disturbing to hear that the founder of IRW is using hateful and persecutory rhetoric against the Yazidi people," she said.

"We have suffered the discriminatory words of so many over the years, but to hear this hate coming from the leader of an international humanitarian organisation is just unacceptable.

OSLO, NORWAY - DECEMBER 10: Co-laureate of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Nadia Murad gives her lecture after accepting her award during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony 2018 at Oslo City Town Hall on December 10, 2018 in Oslo, Norway. The Congolese gynaecologist, Denis Mukwege, who has treated thousands of rape victims, and Nadia Murad, the Iraqi Yazidi, who was sold into sex slavery by Isis, have been jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel peace prize in recognition for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon in war. (Photo by Erik Valestrand/Getty Images)
Nadia Murad wants action agaist IRW Getty Images

"This type of rhetoric is what fuelled the targeted violence that led to the genocide of my people,” she said. “It is imperative that politicians and global leaders condemn this

Hundreds of thousands of Yazidi Iraqis were displaced and persecuted in the reign of terror imposed by ISIS after 2014 – with some ISIS members even describing the Yazidis as followers of Satan.

Ms Murad was kidnapped from her hometown of Kocho in 2014 and held by ISIS captors for three months.

Meanwhile, IRW has defended Dr El Banna’s comments. “Viewed in full and in context, this video is a history lecture on the positive contribution of a diverse range of Muslims and non-Muslims to the development of Middle Eastern civilisations,” a statement said.

“It makes passing reference to how a number of groups are commonly referred to in the region to identify and introduce them. It references the contribution these groups have made to society and to civilisation, encouraging mutual respect.”

The Muslim Charities Forum also came to his defence, stating that Dr El Banna was at the forefront of galvanising aid for the Yazidi people.

Updated: November 19, 2020 07:07 PM

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