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. 

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Updated 26 October 2020

Sri Lanka shuts parliament after coronavirus case detected

  • Parliament was closed for two days as a precautionary measure so the premises can be disinfected

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s parliament was closed on Monday in order to disinfect the premises after a police officer at the complex tested positive for the coronavirus amid a new surge of the virus in the country.
Parliament was closed for two days as a precautionary measure so the premises can be disinfected, said Narendra Fernando, the Parliament’s sergeant of arms. Close associates of the officer were also tested, with the results expected later Monday. An additional 22 Parliament staffers will be tested on Tuesday, Fernando said.
Sri Lanka has seen a fresh outbreak of the virus since early this month, when a new cluster emerged centered at a garment factory near Colombo, the capital.
On Monday, 351 new cases were confirmed in the Indian Ocean island nation. Most of the new infections are related to the garment factory cluster, which has grown to 4,400 cases, more than half the country’s total of 7,872. One fatality was reported on Sunday, raising Sri Lanka’s death toll to 16.
In a bid to contain the spread, the government has imposed curfews in many parts of densely populated Western province, where the garment factory and Colombo are located, and where most new cases have been detected.
The government also has closed schools, banned gatherings and imposed restrictions on public transport across the entire country.