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Muslims Push White House on Charitable Giving Rules

(RNS) A Muslim legal advocacy group urged Muslims to flood the White House with phone calls on Friday (June 4) to complain about federal laws they say make it impossible for Muslims to contribute to charities without fear of being questioned or arrested.
The campaign comes one year after President Obama acknowledged concerns about charitable giving in a historic speech in Cairo, and barely a week after a top Treasury Department official told Congress that federal laws had “chilled” Muslim charitable giving.
Islam requires Muslims to pay “zakat,” a tax of usually 2.5 percent on income and capital, to help the poor. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration gave the Treasury Department and the FBI broad emergency powers to monitor and investigate charities as possible fronts for terrorist organizations.
At least six Islamic charities have either been shut down or prosecuted by the Treasury Department, while many Muslim donors have been questioned or arrested by law enforcement over their charitable contributions.
Farhana Khera, executive director of the San Francisco-based group Muslim Advocates, said the vague orders allow federal agents to profile Muslims. “You don’t see that kind of scrutiny with other faith communities,” Khera said.
The group also complained that Muslims considering donations face a complicated process to verify the legitimacy of intended charities, including checking five different watch lists that identify charities with alleged terrorist connections.
Daniel Glaser, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, told a House subcommittee on May 26 that federal authorities recognize the tactics “have had the unfortunate and unintended consequence” of a “chilling effect” of Muslim charitable giving.
Glaser defended those tactics, however, as necessary to preventing terrorism financing.
The lack of change is especially disappointing to Muslims who were buoyed by Obama’s Cairo speech on June 4, 2009. “In the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That’s why I’m committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat,” Obama said at the time.
— Omar Sacirbey
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • Henrietta22

    There is a war going on, it has to be recognized, and understood about rules. President Obama is working to allow certifiable Muslim Charties do receive monies after they are completely checked out. They have found six charities that were shut down after checking them out. There you are.

  • nnmns

    If he says he’s going to deal with it, it should be dealt with. I realize Republicans are still hobbling his work as much as they can, for instance by not approving large numbers of his appointments well over a year into his term. So this, like so much of the evil in Washington, may well be their fault. But it should be an easy thing, for instance, to combine those lists into just one place a person needs to look.
    There is so much need, for instance in Palestine, it’s a real shame the money can’t flow there.

  • John

    I understand the government’s desire to make sure that charity money doesn’t go into the wrong hands, which will inevitably cause somewhat of a reduction in charitable giving…but it shouldn’t create a “chill” on charitable giving. That’s absolutely frightening. The poorest of the poor depend on the services that these charitable organizations provide. Poor people suffer when Americans stop giving out of fear of prosecution and overwhelming burdensome and complex laws. Checking 5 different lists is ridiculous… why can’t there be one list? This isn’t too much to ask from the government.

  • Henrietta22

    I don’t think it is possible to have one list on anything, why should this be different when it is security for our country that is being watched out for? I read a forward today about the terrorists that are being picked up coming in from Mexico with the possible help of the drug cartels there. They have been picked up in Atlanta, where else have they snuck off to? The Atlanta news video shows a muslim prayer rug being held up by a rancher that found it on his property. An emblem from an Arab jacket was also found recently. Gives you a pause about why Arizonia passed what they have, doesn’t it? They found six charities that was a front for the terrorists, while they were distributing monies to the poor. Welfare groups make good hiding places for terrorism.

  • Jasper Kane

    Heh I am really the first reply to this incredible article?!

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