Sweden under pressure to follow Germany’s lead and halt funding of Islamic Relief

Backlash after scandal-hit charity handed Martin Luther King award despite alleged Muslim Brotherhood connections

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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Sweden is facing mounting pressure over its funding of the Swedish branch of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) after Germany suspended its funding of the charity, citing its alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sweden’s national aid agency Sida has increased the charity’s funding rather than suspending it, while investigations into its links to Muslim Brotherhood take place.

A number of senior figures at the scandal-hit charity have resigned recently after making anti-Semitic comments and allegedly supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, this week Islamic Relief was awarded the Martin Luther King Award 2021 by the Swedish Christian Council for its work in running a hostel in Stockholm for 4,000 asylum seekers.

The move has been criticised widely on social media platforms, coming soon after the German government announced last month that it was freezing the charity's funding next year.

"In Germany, contributions to anti-Semitic Islamic Relief are frozen due to links to the Muslim Brotherhood," Johan Sundeen said on Twitter.

“In Sweden, a project where Islamic Relief is a partner is awarded the Martin Luther King Prize 2021! Sweden's Christian Council once again shows poor judgment.”

Kent Ekeroth also questioned why the church had given it the prize when “in Germany its aid was frozen after anti-Semitism”.

“Islamic Relief is closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and thus linked to Islamist terrorism,” said Anders Ask, another Twitter user.

“You have a very strange set of values within the church.”

The German Interior Ministry said it had stopped funding IRW and Islamic Relief Deutschland (IRD) over ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. A spokesperson said it had information that IRW and IRD had "significant connections to the Muslim Brotherhood or related organisations".

The German Foreign Office said IRD would receive a final payment in January "in order to be able to guarantee the delivery of urgently needed medicines" to hospitals in Syria.

Sida has said it is looking at the allegations as it reviews its contracts with IRW.

A report by British consultancy Itad, commissioned by Sida to examine the humanitarian organisations it supports, concluded that IRW was a “principled and effective humanitarian actor”.

Carina Ukalovic said other nations’ politicians seemed “to be much wiser than Sweden's leaders”.

“No one can deny anymore that there is a connection between Islamic Relief and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Nalin Pekgul said on Twitter.

“Sida should take the consequences and immediately stop giving money to Islamic Relief.”

The leader of Islamic Relief Sweden is Lamia el Amri, who is also a director of IRW, having survived a shake-up of the board earlier this year.

In August, IRW said it would remove all of its trustees after the first accusations emerged, but a closed-door meeting resulted in Ms El Amri holding on to her position.

Ms El Amri also works for the Swedish educational network Ibn Rushd Study Association.

It has been linked through its founder, the Islamic Association of Sweden, to the Muslim Brotherhood's European umbrella organisation, the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe.