40+ Charities Tell President to Protect Zakat

August 13, 2010

Under the leadership of Muslim Advocates, MPAC joined dozens of American Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian charities in sending a letter to President Obama describing how federal laws and discriminatory actions of federal agents are putting a chill on zakat in our communities, and asking for him to take immediate action.

"At this time, federal investigations and intelligence-gathering activities continue to interfere with the day-to-day charitable activities of American Muslims and obstruct our ability to build and support strong civic institutions.

These overly broad and invasive investigative and intelligence-gathering activities create fear, chill charitable activities, and ultimately undermine the continued participation and integration of Muslims in America."

The letter expresses collective dismay that - despite extensive meetings among Muslim Advocates, other community leaders, and administration officials over the past year - the President has not followed through with his 2009 Cairo pledge to ease hurdles to charitable giving for American Muslims.
The letter also proposes specific policy reform measures the President and Congress can take, such as:

    * Directing the Justice Department and Treasury Department to issue agency orders providing a safe-harbor for well-intentioned donors;
    * Directing the Treasury Department and State Department, which collectively maintain the various Prohibited Lists, to create a single, user-friendly, searchable database that compiles all Prohibited Lists in one central location housed with the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department; and
    * Directing the Treasury Secretary to withdraw Treasury's vague and quasi-voluntary Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities, which chill the delivery of critical humanitarian aid and provide charities with no protection from legal sanction even if the Guidelines are painstakingly followed.

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