Source: The New York Times
The fight against terrorism has dealt a harsh blow to Muslim charities and interfered with their donors’ religious freedom, a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union concludes.
The report says statutes that it describes as overly broad and enforced in a discriminatory manner, coupled with a lack of due process, have starved Islamic charities of money and impeded Muslims’ ability to fulfill zakat, their religious requirement to make charitable donations.
The report is based on interviews with more than 100 Muslim community leaders as well as experts on antiterrorism laws and regulations. Though it gives no estimate of the 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.
That action ranges, it says, from declaring a group to be under investigation to designating it a terrorist organization and freezing its assets.
“While there is a legitimate concern about the use of charitable funds to finance terrorism, it does not outweigh the rights of American Muslims to fulfill their religious obligations or override constitutional requirements for due process,” said the author, Jennifer Turner, the A.C.L.U.’s human rights researcher.