Islamic Relief appoints new board after antisemitic comments from a second trustee emerge

Islamic Relief Worldwide has appointed a new board of trustees after it emerged that a second board member had posted antisemitic comments on Facebook.

A statement by the charity said the “offensive and unacceptable” posts by Almoutaz Tayara “in no way reflect the views and core values of the organisation”, and he would play no further part in its governance.

It comes after another trustee, Heshmat Khalifa, stepped down in July after antisemitic social media posts made five years ago were uncovered in an account in his name

Tayara, a trustee of both IRW and its independent affiliate Islamic Relief Germany, accepted that the posts were inappropriate and unacceptable and has said he was “deeply ashamed” of his comments. 

He apologised to IR Germany for his posts in 2017 when they first came to light in the country. At that time he withdrew the posts and closed his Facebook account. 

IR Germany accepted his apology and instituted a new code of conduct.

Tayara is also stepping down from the board of the International Waqf Fund – IRW’s specialist subsidiary for charitable investments.

IRW said it would take advice from the Charity Commission as it conducted a wholesale review of its vetting and screening processes for trustee and senior executive appointments, and a review of other policies, including its social media policies, to ensure that its values were upheld.

IRW stressed it was a purely humanitarian organisation with no political affiliations. 

It said in a statement: “We work to uphold the highest humanitarian standards of neutrality, impartiality and independence, assisting people of all faiths and none, without discrimination by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

“We reject and condemn terrorism and believe that all forms of discrimination – including antisemitism – are unacceptable.”

The IRW formed a new board of trustees after the charity’s first trustee elections, which took place online on Saturday.

Previous board members were appointed by agreement of the existing trustees, but the new board has been elected by members of a new international general assembly representing Islamic Relief offices around the world. 

The charity described the change as “a key step forward in a major package of governance reforms that also includes a new constitution for the charity, and a new membership agreement framing the relationship between the IRW international secretariat and affiliate offices across the Islamic Relief federation.”

The four new trustees said in a statement: “In beginning this new chapter in the Islamic Relief story, we wish to correct misleading media reports about the transition from the old board to the new. 

“The departure of the old board was in no way connected to the social media posts recently highlighted in media reports. 

“Any innuendo that other former trustees wished to avoid scrutiny or had something to hide is entirely false.

“The new international general assembly that elected us to the board was established as part of sweeping governance reforms that have been six years in the making. 

“We look forward to meeting with the Charity Commission to discuss how we can learn lessons from recent events and build a brighter future.”

– The article originally said Tayara had been brought in to replace Khalifa but he was in fact already on the board

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