In April 2018, several Jewish representatives, including the Board of Deputies and the South Wales Jewish Representatives Council, requested an informal meeting with Saleem Kidwai OBE (Former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales). At the meeting, the attendees raised several historical Facebook and Twitter posts made by Sahar al-Faifi, our then Assistant Secretary General, which they considered anti-Semitic. We indicated that this discussion would be best conducted with Sahar present, as we were confident Sahar was not anti-Semitic, and had positively engaged with many Jewish organisations and synagogues throughout working within the Muslim Council of Wales.
We next met, with Sahar, on the 12th February 2019. The meeting included Eddie Cawston (Cardiff Reform Synagogue), Sheila Gelwob (Board of Deputies), Anthony Silkoff (Board of Deputies), Rabbi Michel Rose (Cardiff Shul), and Mark Stone (then Cardiff Reform Synagogue).
At the meeting, Sahar made an unreserved apology for an anti-Semitic post made in the past and deleted. The attendees accepted the apology and thanked Sahar. Subsequent discussion focused on articles and extended Facebook posts made, and as to whether they were anti-Semitic. For example, this included items such as a comment piece Sahar wrote criticising Sajid Javid for not visiting a mosque, yet making visits to a synagogue. In general, the attendees all accepted Sahar’s intended meaning was not anti-Semitic, but there was disagreement as to whether the wording used conveyed that. The meeting concluded positively with several action points, including anti-Semitism training (as a whole, but including Sahar) and the Jewish representative to attend Islamophobia training to which they have not done yet.
Through the meetings, Sahar al-Faifi was open, willing to engage with Jewish representatives, keen to seek a positive resolution.
Her commitment to social justice is exemplary, and throughout her tenure in the Muslim Council of Wales, she campaigned and worked for equality and justice for all in society – without exception or discrimination.
Sahar’s public profile and visibility as a Muslim women active in politics and campaigning has made her a target for abuse, online and in-person. Her case also highlights the vulnerable position of Muslims in public life, who face much greater scrutiny than others.
We believe it is important for Muslims of all backgrounds to engage in political life, and become active members of political parties. One of the aims of MCW is to promote active citizenship and engage Welsh Muslims with all parties across the spectrum.
Muslim Council of Wales