The crime of being a Muslim charity

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: United States Of America Views: 3364

The US Treasury Department is playing target practice with American Muslim charities. On Feb. 19 Treasury seized the assets and froze the operations of KindHearts, a Toledo-based humanitarian organization, acting on the dubious allegation that it is financing terrorism. Someone from Treasury once told us, "There are folks here who look at you guys like notches on their belts . . . just waiting to take the next one out."

Unfortunately, those of us in the American Muslim community who want to give to legitimate causes in a lawful manner are getting mixed messages from the U.S. government. We are told that if we conduct due diligence and function transparently, we should be able to give to charities of our choice. Then the government closes most of these charities, using the weakest of evidence to support its actions and leading many American Muslims to believe that our government opposes efforts to help needy Muslims around the world. Moreover, the arbitrary freezing of assets ensures that the money will never reach the destination intended by the donors -- the truly indigent. The government has consistently denied requests to have the frozen funds released to reputable organizations (that are not on any lists) doing similar work so that the donors' intentions are honored.

Under the USA Patriot Act, the U.S. government is authorized to close down a charity while an investigation is going on. The government is under no obligation to reveal the evidence used to justify the seizure of assets and the designation of the charity as a "specially designated national," i.e. a bad guy on the list of suspected terrorists issued by the Treasury Department.

The organization can file an appeal, but as was noted in a recent paper titled "Muslim Charities and the War on Terror" by the organization OMBWatch, "appealing Treasury actions to the federal courts is relatively useless, as the court's scope of review is very limited."

Since Sept. 11, 2001, six American Muslim charities have been shuttered in this fashion. The government still doesn't have a single terrorism conviction against any of the employees or board members of any of those charities. Similarly, the government has never been able to document a bona fide trail showing how money from the charity got into the hands of actual terrorists. Never.

We believe it is possible to provide sustenance to people in need without supporting terrorism. But the message we are hearing is this: "All Muslims are suspected of supporting terrorism. Your charities are guilty of this crime until proven innocent. But don't bother trying to prove your innocence because you won't have the chance." The government has not taken action against a single non-Muslim charity that works in the same region helping to feed, educate and sustain people who had also received assistance from the Muslim charities accused of financing terrorism.

We are among those American Muslims who decided that because it is our right as Americans to fulfill our religious obligation to help the needy both here and abroad, we would start a new charity. We did so in 2002 and have experienced our fair share of government harassment as a result.

None of us is interested in engaging in illegal activity; it is immoral, unethical and un-Islamic, and it serves no useful purpose whatever. Our crime is that we care about what happens to the children of Palestine. Who knows what price we will have to pay for our hot-breakfast program for hungry kids in Gaza, for our playground project in the West Bank, for our psychosocial trauma center in Hebron.

Under former attorney general John Ashcroft, American Muslim charities were closed as part of the charade to make the American people believe the government was disrupting terrorist financing. Today, under Alberto Gonzales, the message is that Muslim Americans will be punished if they want to help Palestinians. Either way the assault on our charities is not about the safety and security of the American people but about politics.

The writers, both physicians, are board members of KinderUSA, a Muslim American nonprofit humanitarian organization.

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: United States Of America
Views: 3364

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Older Comments:
asalam alaikum. i feel so sad to read such things are happening to muslims in america. May Allah ease the burdens and suffering of those in america and all the ummah.Ameen
They can plott againt us, Allah is the best planner. They wanan stop our charities then lets see what happen to them when Allah raises us all on judgement day and has to answer to Allah for our actions.
May Allah forgive us and guide us always.Ameen

La howla wa la quwatta illah billah.

fee aman Allah .. asalam alaikum wrahmatullah wa barakatu.

Well, Brother Najeeb, if it could work then I think we have our Lord to thank for it. Plus I'm glad to hear you think it makes sense.

On reflection it seems it could amount to a trial of sorts for Islamists in positions of authority. But my thinking is, if they decided to support it even a trial basis, they would be tearing down a section of a "security fence" their adversaries were counting on them to extent.

Interfaith dialogue could seemingly cause a few problems for isolationists on both sides of the fence. But I'm hoping Islamists could find a useful place for it somewhere on theirs. With Allah's help.

Thank you Brother Yahya for one the best solution I've heard for a long time. Practical, feasible, and an absolute win-win across the board: for the victims who are in desperate need, for the charities (christian, jewish, muslim) and the boost this will give to the inter-faith dialogue, and for the conscience of the world (or whatever is left of it). Where are the "muslim" leaders when we need them!

May Allah bless you and us all!

It is beyond any participating Muslim in the USA to fight this current. This policy making has taken a life of its own supported by both uninformed politicians and very wise specific goal oriented policy makers.
The very act of trying to fight this wave well be met by the utmost resistance and the clear reasons are very clearly know. Therefore theonly solution to this dilema is to propose the engagement of american law makers and government officials to monitor the distribution of funds.
I do understand that all donners wish to send there money indiscriminately or discriminately to those in need, but the very act of fighting these ruling will have one results and thats those in need will continue to suffer.
I believe it is your moral obligation when it comes to charity to do all that is possible with the utmost clarity and due deligence to insure a spotless record. I understand that this is a very difficult feet to cross, however the work of god has never been easy nor smooth. Involve the officials and have them monitor the distribution of each dollar. This is the only way that at least a logical percentage of the poeple in need may recieve the food and cloth they need.
I pray for peace and justice, and I hope that the cloud of this distructive war fed by hate and confusion will end soon.
Oh god help us all as we sleep with filled stomachs, and comfortable beds while billions are suffering and screaming for food.

Thank you