x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Muslim charities targeted by police

Islamic charities in the US are suffering from a lack of religious freedom because of targeting by law enforcement agencies under anti-terrorism laws, says a report.

NEW YORK // Islamic charities in the United States are suffering from a lack of religious freedom because of targeting by law enforcement agencies under anti-terrorism laws, said a report released yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union. It said American Muslims were unable to properly fulfil zakat, a religious requirement to make charitable donations, because of opaque rules aimed at preventing the financing of terrorism.

"The United States has long been regarded as a beacon of religious freedom and yet US terrorism financing laws and policies developed under the Bush administration are inhibiting American Muslims' ability to freely and fully practice their religion," said the report. Nine Islamic charities were shut down because of government action but the report did not specify by how much donations had declined since tougher regulation was imposed after the September 11 attacks.

Last November, a second trial of a Muslim charity - the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development - and five of its former leaders ended in guilty verdicts of funnelling more than US$12 million (Dh44m) to Hamas. sdevi@thenational.ae