ISNA Commends the ACLU for Report on the Negative Impact of Government Policies on Muslim Charitable Giving
Plainfield, IN (June 16, 2009) The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) commends the American Civil Liberty Union (UCLA) for its comprehensive study entitled “Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity: Chilling Muslim Charitable Giving in the ‘War on Terrorism Financing.’”
The ACLU’s report outlines a pattern of conduct that violates the fundamental rights of American Muslims and warns that such a violation has a chilling effect on Muslim charitable giving in accordance with the Islamic faith. The report recommends ways that this undermining of the American principles of due process and commitment to First Amendment freedoms can be rectified.
The ACLU documents the department of treasury’s use of secret evidence and non-transparent procedures in dealing with American Muslim charities, and describes how terrorism financing laws developed in recent years have inhibited American Muslims’ ability to freely and fully practice their religion.
The ACLU warns of the “collateral consequences” of current policies and practices and makes a list of recommendations. Among the most obvious and serious consequences of current policies and practices are: alienating Muslim Americans, damaging America’s reputation and diplomatic efforts in Muslim countries by giving the appearance of a war on Islam, fomenting fear that drives Muslim Americans’ charitable donations underground, and creates a chilling effect on overseas humanitarian relief efforts.
The ACLU concludes with detailed recommendations to both the executive and legislative branches of government calling for revisions of current policies and practices so as to protect the civil liberties of Muslim Americans and to ensure that constitutional guarantees, including religious freedom, equal protections, and due process are respected.
ISNA is optimistic that our government will take these recommendations seriously, given President Obama’s recognition of the problem in his Cairo speech when he said, “Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together. We must always examine the ways in which we protect it. For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat.”
Full text of ACLU study http://www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/nationalsecurity/39849pub20090616.html
A.C.L.U. Report Says Antiterror Fight Undercuts Liberty of Muslim Donors, Stephanie Strom http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/us/16charity.html
Muslims Face Risk In Giving To Charities, Barbara Bradley Hagerty http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105449968&ft=1&f=1012
Video: Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW5KiMoVDZ8