Group allegedly tied to Hamas removed as sponsor from Islamic conference

Imam Zaid Shakir speaks the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto.

Credits: File Photo.


OTTAWA -- Accusations that non-profit group IRFAN-Canada has links to terror organization Hamas are unfair and unfounded, the group's lawyer says.

IRFAN-Canada was removed as a sponsor of the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto after Canada Revenue Agency found it donated nearly $15 million in resources to local charities operated by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group.

The group's lawyer, Naseer Syed, said IRFAN-Canada has been under scrutiny for almost a decade and that most of the criticism levelled at it reflects the bias of its detractors.

"There is no evidence IRFAN supported Hamas directly," Syed told QMI Agency.

Syed said IRFAN-Canada provides medical supplies, cash and other aid to local charities operating in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon.

"Those partners are legally registered with Palestinian and Lebanese authorities, but some Israeli groups - and I mean think tanks, not government - have called them illegal organizations," Syed said.

Despite IRFAN-Canada's removal, the upcoming conference, which is the largest of its kind in Canada, is still drawing controversy.

Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau plans to deliver the keynote address, despite protests from Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith requested a meeting with Trudeau to express its concern, but it's unlikely he will sit down with the organization.

Sam Eskanazi, a spokesman for B'nai Brith, said he doesn't believe it's realistic to expect Trudeau to honour their request.

The conference takes place Dec. 21 to 23 in Toronto.

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