Friday, June 26, 2009

ACLU Report: War on Terror Undercuts Liberty of Muslim Donors

Yesterday, we blogged about French President Sarkozy's pledge to outlaw the burqa.  This post prompted two of our readers to send me a report recently issued by the ACLU which concludes that the United States' fight against terrorism has dealt a harsh blow to Muslim charities and interfered with their donors’ religious freedom.   Although we blogged about this report just ten days ago, I shall submit another post about this interesting development.

According to the ACLU report, the government's actions have "created a climate of fear that chills American Muslims’ free and full exercise of their religion through charitable giving, or Zakat, one of the 'five pillars' of Islam and a religious obligation for all observant Muslims."  

The report is based on interviews with more than 100 Muslim community leaders as well as experts on antiterrorism laws and regulations. Although it does not estimate the total decline in donations to Muslim groups, it says a total of nine Islamic charities have closed as a result of government action against them since the Sept. 11 attacks.

A recent New York Times story quoted Maja Freij, chief financial officer at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, a large Arab-American social services group based in Dearborn, Michigan, as saying, "It’s absolute madness how this policy has been put together and practiced.  It makes you guilty by association, offers no due process and lacks checks and balances.”

Meanwhile, Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, told The Times, “American Muslims with U.S. passports are returning from abroad and being asked about their charitable donations by customs and immigration agents.”


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