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Kasim Hafeez

Faith Kaplan

A British Muslim Speaks Out About Jews and Israel- Has Been Disowned By Members of His Own Family

by Faith Kaplan, Feb 13, 2012


Our community was treated to an unexpectedly powerful speaker on Feb 6, 2012. Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim of Pakistani origin, was raised to hate Jews. He was taught that the destruction of another nation – Israel – was legitimate.

“My hate for Israel and for the Jews was fuelled by images of death and destruction, set to the backdrop of Arabic melodies about Jihad and speeches of Hizbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah or Osama Bin Laden. There was also constant, casual anti-Semitism around me. My father would boast of how Adolf Hitler was a hero, his only failing being that he didn't kill enough Jews. Even the most moderate clerics I came across refused to condemn terrorism against Israel as unjustified.”

When Kasim was 17, he started to think about jihad, and was preparing to go to a training camp when he passed by his local book store. His views changed when he picked up a copy of Alan Dershowitz’s book The Case for Israel. He purchased the book in order to understand how his enemy thought and to prepare to argue against it. He had expected to be able to make a case against Dershowitz but found that the author brought to light a number of irrefutable facts. Spurred on by a “crisis of conscience”, Hafeez went to see for himself what the real Israel was all about in 2007. That trip changed his life. Now 28, Kasim has dedicated himself to speaking the truth about Jews and Israel. It has not been easy.

Kasim’s principled and courageous stand has come with a bitter price. He has been disowned by members of his family. He has been shunned by his community. He actively keeps a low profile because his views have made him a target. He has Jewish friends, but the British Jewish leadership is wary of him.

 “The lack of leadership in the UK when it comes to standing up for Israel and the Jewish community is quite disappointing. No one wants to offend the Muslims for fear of being called a racist or an Islamophobe. It’s as though they believe that the problem will go away if it’s ignored. It won’t.” 

Despite his efforts to change the Israel narrative in the Muslim community, Kasim is not optimistic about his ability to influence change.

 “I have witnessed rallies in Picadilly Circus where the Hizbollah flag is openly paraded without challenge by the police or government. Hizbollah is a banned terrorist organization in the UK, and no one challenges its public support! My aunt’s children attend state run (public) schools, and their classmates talk about killing Jews. The teachers don’t intervene. I won’t raise children in England. The experiment in multiculturalism is a total failure, and no one knows what to do about it.” His message to Canadians is clear: do not let the same thing happen here.


“There are two places in the world where I feel at home: Israel and Canada,” he told me. “Pakistan has changed, and it is not the same country my grandparents left. The UK has become a place where lies are accepted as truth, and no one stands up for the Jewish community or Israel.”

When I asked him how it could be that the country which led the free world against the Nazis could openly embrace anti-Semitism, he smiled sadly. “The Saudis are actively exporting Wahabism around the world, opening mosques and schools staffed with Wahabist mullahs. It has become the dominant form of Islam, and it is the most intolerant. I was shocked by the racism I saw in Saudi Arabia when I went there on a pilgrimage, and I did not feel at all comfortable there.” In contrast, he felt completely accepted in Israel, and could not believe how friendly and welcoming the Israelis were toward him. “Even the border policeman at the airport was friendly. I was interrogated for 6 hours when I landed. The soldier was polite and apologetic about it, explaining why I had been pulled aside, and offered me coffee.”

Kasim Hafeez spoke to a full house on February 6, 2012 in the Berney Theatre about his goal of changing the narrative on Israel in the Muslim community. The hour long presentation followed by a lively question and answer session capped a day of sessions with students at Gray Academy, meetings with individual community members, and a breakfast event for sponsors. The program was presented by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg in cooperation with Canadian Friends of Hebrew University (Winnipeg Chapter); Hillel Winnipeg; the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Rady Jewish Community Centre.

Editor' note: It was this publication that first became aware of Kasim Hafeez when I read an article of his in a British Jewish newspaper in November 2011. As a result of asking Kaseem for permission to reprint his article, we were in contact with eachother by telephne. On learning that Hafeez would be in Canada in February, I suggested to community organizations, in particular, Shelley Faintuch of the Jewish Federation that he would be an interesting and worthwhile speaker to bring to Winnipeg. I want to express my appreciation to Shelley Faintuch and the sponsoring organizations for arranging to bring Hafeez to Winnipeg, and speak at so many venues . Although I was not in town for his lectures, [ unfortunately], I have heard very positive feedback from a number of people who were there.

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