Tuesday, October 19, 2004
The Justice Department rejected a request yesterday from American Muslim groups to provide a list of Islamic charities to which one can make a donation without showing up on a terrorist watch list somewhere.
Muslim groups said they fear giving to a charity that might make them look suspicious to the FBI. The holy month of Ramadan began last week, and Muslims are required to give to the poor during that period.And so the Dept. of Justice continues to foster the kind of respectful and understanding relationship with American Muslims that makes us all feel proud and safe to be Americans. This seems like a reasonable request for several reasons. First, it is not as though it is obvious which charities are giving "material aid" to terrorist groups. They aren't naming themselves "The Hamas Charity Fund" or "Islamic Jihad Foundation for Charitable Giving." They don't express support for terror in their mission statements (for obvious reasons). And it seems reasonable that somebody giving to a charity would 1) not want to get into trouble because of something that they thought was benevolent and harmless and 2) want the money to actually go toward doing some good instead of being frozen indefinitely while the Dept. of Justice conducts some kind of investigation.
"If the government knows there are charities that are misleading the American Muslim community, it's their obligation to help protect these innocent Americans," said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer for the American Muslim Union, based in New Jersey.