Another story about Islamic charities. Originally published by Reuters U.S. Muslims seek Treasury meeting on charities 01 Mar 2006 02:03:00 GMT Source: Reuters
A coalition of U.S. Muslim organizations on Tuesday requested a meeting with Treasury Secretary John Snow to discuss concerns that Muslim charities are targeted in the government's counterterrorism efforts. In a letter to Snow, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT) said government closures of Islamic charities have hindered American Muslims' ability to carry out their religious obligation to help the needy. The coalition of 10 organizations referred to action this month against Kindhearts, a Toledo, Ohio-based Islamic nonprofit group, whose assets were blocked pending an investigation. The Treasury Department said Kindhearts had links to the Palestinian group Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist organization. Since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the government has designated three major U.S. Muslim charities as suspected sponsors of terrorism and frozen their assets. Muslim charitable giving has been in the spotlight since authorities discovered al Qaeda and other militants had abused charities to fund attacks. In the letter to Snow, AMT said most of KindHearts' frozen assets were earmarked for earthquake relief in Pakistan and for a new division in South Asia. "Although we understand the political climate of our country and support our government's efforts to thwart terrorist financing; we find it unfair that our government has yet made another extrajudicial decision to effectively wipe-out more than five years of humanitarian assistance to the world's needy by the mere stroke of a pen," the letter said. Molly Millerwise, a Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment on future engagements for Snow, but denied that Treasury was targeting Muslim charities. "The charge that they've made is completely untrue. We've worked very closely with the charitable sector and specifically with the Muslim American charitable sector to safeguard charitable giving against terrorist financing," she said. "The Treasury has issued voluntary guidelines to strengthen transparency to help ensure money intended for charitable activities does not fall into the hands of terrorists," Millerwise added. Many Muslim charities and organizations in the United States say they feel like targets of a government "witch hunt" since Sept. 11. Required by their faith to pay "zakat," or alms for the needy, Muslims say the U.S. government crackdown is intimidating donors.