For the last decade, I have been researching the harmful effects of cultural practices on women and girls in Muslim-majority countries and the role that faith communities can play in ending these practices. I recently authored a report on female genital mutilation in Indonesia and made recommendations to Islamic Relief Canada and to the Canadian government on how this practice can end.
This work of challenging harmful societal norms is at the heart of Islamic Relief Canada’s mission. This year we mark our 10th anniversary in Canada.
As a Muslim woman mobilizing for change, we often face obstacles from all communities when dealing with these issues.
Our organization is at the forefront of campaigning for an end to global and local poverty. We work with the most disadvantaged communities, responding to natural disasters and other emergencies and striving to end harmful practices, such as child labour, forced marriages and gender-based violence — all of which perpetuate a cycle of poverty.
We’ve done some incredible work in the last ten years helping millions of individuals around the world — including in Canada — regardless of their religion, race, gender or sexuality. We’ve been amazed at the generosity of Canadians — those who are Muslim and those of different faith backgrounds who support our work and are strong advocates for the efforts we undertake. For instance, we raised over $100,000 for the victims of the Fort McMurray wildfire, supported Syrian refugee resettlement programs, worked at empowering disadvantaged youth in the Greater Toronto Area, and launched an appeal for the Quebec mosque attack victims that raised thousands of dollars for the families left without their fathers.
This track record stands in stark contrast to the false image painted of Islamic Relief Canada in a one-sided and unsubstantiated article that was published recently in the National Post.
Sam Westrop, writing on behalf of the Middle East Forum (MEF), labelled Islamic Relief Canada a “terrorist organization which regularly gives platforms to preachers who incite hatred against women, Jews, homosexuals and Muslim minorities.” This defamatory statement was removed after our organization contacted the newspaper, along with community members who were justifiably angered by this casual smear of a reputable and valuable charity. The revised article is now online, but for me, it still represents the dictionary definition of fake news: “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.”
Yes, about that:
In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation (Project Sapphire) into the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN) continues. IRFAN was one of four Muslim Brotherhood front groups identified during testimony to the Canadian Senate in 2015. The others were Islamic Relief Canada, the Muslim Association of Canada and the National Council of Canadian Muslims, formerly known as CAIR CAN. CAIR CAN, according to the U.S. State Department and a multiplicity of other sources, is the Canadian chapter of CAIR USA.
Sam Westrop’s article:
Our organization, the Middle East Forum, is calling on Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, to withdraw from an Islamic Relief Canada event aimed at promoting Muslim solidarity, which is scheduled to take place in Toronto on May 20. …
While Islamic Relief is considered to be one of Canada’s leading Muslim non-governmental organizations, its head organization—Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW)—was banned by Israel and the United Arab Emirates in 2014 for its alleged financing of terrorist organizations. (That same year, IRW reported that an audit of the charity found no evidence to support these allegations, and launched a court action against the Israeli government to overturn the ban.)