Head of UK Muslim charity quits over anti-Semitic posts

Heshmat Khalifa, the former director and a trustee of Islamic Relief Worldwide, resigned after the charity was confronted about his anti-Semitic posts. (Photo: Facebook)
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Updated 24 July 2020

Head of UK Muslim charity quits over anti-Semitic posts

  • Khalifa also used social media to praise Hamas and its armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.
  • He attacked the Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi using anti-Semitic insults in more than a dozen posts

LONDON: The director of the largest Muslim charity in the UK, who is a sympathizer of Palestinian militant group Hamas, has resigned after a series of anti-Semitic Facebook posts came to light.
Heshmat Khalifa, the former director and a trustee of Islamic Relief Worldwide, resigned after British newspaper The Times confronted the charity about his anti-Semitic posts. Khalifa also used social media to praise Hamas and its armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.
The Charity Commission for England and Wales has launched a preliminary investigation into Islamic Relief after comments that include the labeling of Jews as the “grandchildren of monkeys and pigs” came to light, The Times reported.
Khalifa, who was born and educated in Egypt, also attacked the country’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi using anti-Semitic insults in more than a dozen posts in 2014 and 2015, The Times reported. 
Islamic Relief, which describes itself as an “independent humanitarian and development organization,” published a statement on Friday saying: “We reject and condemn terrorism and believe that all forms of discrimination — including anti-Semitism — are unacceptable.”
The charity added that Khalifa’s Facebook posts “contravene the values and principles of Islamic Relief Worldwide,” which “sincerely regrets any offense caused.”
Khalifa has expressed regret at the “language and sentiments expressed” in the posts, and said he was sorry for publishing them, The Times reported. 


Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of attacking settlements in disputed region

Updated 27 September 2020

Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of attacking settlements in disputed region

  • Armenia’s Defense Ministry said its troops downed 2 Azerbaijani helicopters and 3 drones in response to an attack
  • Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said it launched a military operation along the “contact line”

YEREVAN: Armenia said early on Sunday that neighboring Azerbaijan had attacked civilian settlements in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and urged the population in the disputed region to seek refuge in shelters.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that its troops had downed two Azerbaijani helicopters and three drones in response to an attack it said began at 0410 GMT against civilian settlements, including the regional capital of Stepanakert.
“Our response will be proportionate, and the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the situation,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, in turn, said it had launched a military operation along the “contact line,” a heavily-mined no-man’s-land that separates the Armenian-backed forces from Azeri troops in the region, Russian news agencies reported.
The ministry said that an Azerbaijani helicopter had been downed but that its crew had survived.

Meanwhile, Turkey vowed complete support for Baku and called on Armenia to give up its “aggression.”
“We will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means in their fight to protect their territorial integrity,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement.
Turkey is a key ally of Baku with close cultural and linguistic ties with Azerbaijan.
Ankara has no diplomatic relations with Yerevan due to a dispute over the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire which Armenia says is a genocide.
“The greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Caucasus is Armenia’s aggression, and it should give up this aggression which will throw the region into fire,” Akar said.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin “strongly” condemned the clashes and said Armenia “once again violated international law and (has) shown that it has no interest in peace and stability.”
He called on the international community to “say stop to this dangerous provocation” in a tweet.
“Azerbaijan is not alone. It has Turkey's full support,” Kalin added.
The Turkish foreign ministry in a statement went further, promising: “However Azerbaijan wants, we will stand by Azerbaijan in that manner.”
The two former Soviet countries have long been in conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic-Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, and border clashes have intensified in recent months.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry condemned what it called the “aggression of the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan” and said the Armenian side would deliver an appropriate military and political response.
Ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence during a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Though a cease-fire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.