Holocaust Memorial Day: Muslims demand UK action over anti-Jewish hate posts

Senior figures in Islamic Relief Worldwide made anti-Semitic posts

Islamic Relief Worldwide in Digbeth, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom. Digbeth is an area of Central Birmingham, England. Islamic Relief Worldwide is an international humanitarian organisation that provides development programs and humanitarian relief around the globe, regardless of race, political affiliation, gender or belief. Following the destruction of the Inner Ring Road, Digbeth is now considered a district within Birmingham City Centre. As part of the Big City Plan, Digbeth is undergoing a large redevelopment scheme that will regenerate the old industrial buildings into apartments, retail premises, offices and arts facilities. There is still however much industrial activity in the south of the area. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images)
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Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, a campaign group, is urging the UK to take tougher action against hate speech following what it called the "insufficient" handling of an investigation into the Islamic Relief Worldwide charity.

As Holocaust Memorial Day took place across the world, the group said Muslims could no longer tolerate anti-Semitism and it called on the government to take further action.

Last week the UK's Charity Commission ruled it was "satisfied" with the measures taken by IRW to address hate posts made by three of its senior figures.

One of those investigated was IRW trustee Heshmat Khalifa, who made more than a dozen offensive Facebook posts. These expressed anti-Semitism and support for Hamas.

The chairman of Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, Ghanem Nuseibeh, told The National the watchdog's measures mean the situation with IRW remains "largely unchanged".

The Commission has said it will continue to monitor IRW after those concerned stepped down.

Germany and the Netherlands have gone further, withdrawing IRW's funding.

"I think the Charity Commission's response is a good step in that it promises to keep IRW under the radar. However, given the large number of complaints against IRW this is insufficient," Mr Nuseibeh told The National.

"IRW has been accused of links to the Muslim Brotherhood and I have repeatedly asked them to condemn the Brotherhood’s spiritual head Yusuf Al Qaradawi who is banned from the UK for his extremist and anti-Semitic views, but IRW refused. This is worrying.

The Commission began an investigation into the charity last July.

Over the following months other high-profile figures at the charity were revealed to have made inappropriate posts.

Trustee Almoutaz Tayara admitted he had posted offensive material praising Hamas and an anti-Semitic cartoon, and fundraising co-ordinator Abdul Mannan Bhatti was found to have posted regular quotes from Sayyid Qutb, a founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The Commission’s case established that the former trustees and director did not disclose the existence of their social media profiles or posts to the charity,” the watchdog said in a statement.

After reviewing the charity’s response to the extremist posts, the Commission said it was satisfied with IRW's condemnation of the comments.

The Henry Jackson Society, a London think tank, has already raised concerns about the UK's response.

“Anti-Semitic social media posts from the top leadership of UK government-funded charity Islamic Relief Worldwide seriously undermine both its credibility and the confidence of its donors, which in turn may affect its ability to respond to humanitarian and development challenges around the world as set out in its global strategy,” said research fellow Matt Dryden.

“Although the Charity Commission’s imposition of regulatory advice and guidance is welcome, it clearly does not go far enough, and fails to send a sufficiently strong message that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated.”

Last year, an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission identified serious failings in the UK opposition Labour Party's leadership and ruled it had an inadequate process of handling anti-Semitism complaints.

On Wednesday, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, the UK's Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a £500,000 ($684,494) funding programme to tackle anti-Semitism on campuses and said education was the key to tackling hate.

"As we mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, it is our duty to ensure that as the last survivors remain with us, their stories are shared with future generations," he said.

"Education is one of the most powerful tools we can use to combat anti-Semitism. I am proud this government will fund the Holocaust Educational Trust to educate thousands of students and academics in the horrors of the Holocaust."

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