While President Barack Obama conceded in his speech in Cairo last month that U.S. rules on charitable giving “have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation,” civil rights advocates are pressing the president to turn his words into action. The Muslim Public Affairs Council has joined other nonprofit organizations in urging Obama to follow up on his commitment to work with Muslim Americans to revise charitable giving rules. In a letter to the president, the organizations said, “We are seeking a meeting with you and the appropriate representatives of your administration to provide background information on how current national security rules create problems for all U.S. charities and to provide recommendations for change.” It outlined a set of principles for new rules governing charitable giving and operations, and said government policy “must address systemic problems.” The government, it said, should “provide clear standards for permissible charitable and development activity that are consistent with long-standing norms for humanitarian operations,” such as the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief. It must provide a fair opportunity for charities accused of supporting terrorism to defend themselves; protect charitable assets from indefinite freezing and allow these resources to further the charitable mission donors intended to support; and withdraw the Treasury Department’s Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-based Charities.” For Muslims, charitable giving is a religiously-mandated obligation known as “zakat.” The “war on terror” has dealt a harsh blow to Muslim charities and interfered with their donors’ religious freedom, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
MPAC was established in the mid-1980’s by individuals whose backgrounds are likely rooted in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and, since its inception, has acted in concert with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
During the recent Holy Land Foundation Hamas terrorism financing trial, a number of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders and organizations were named as unindicted co-conspirators. For example, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) ISNA was named as as a result of what the government called “ISNA’s and NAIT’s intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.” Many other U.S.Muslim Brotherhood leaders and organizations were also named including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).