Fearful of Government Suspicion, US Muslims Donate Goods Instead of Money to Lebanese

August 9, 2006

Source: The Washington Post


On August 9, 2006 The Washington Post reported, "In a Detroit warehouse, boxes of diapers, water-purification tablets, lentils, rice, powdered milk and cooking oil are stacked almost to the ceiling, destined for Lebanon. More packages, mostly from individual donors across the country, arrive every day. But nobody -- not even the charity that is collecting them -- is very happy about it. 'Obviously, it makes more sense for us to get financial contributions. Obviously, this is the most inefficient way to do humanitarian aid,' said Mohammed Alomari, a spokesman for the charity, Life for Relief and Development in Southfield, Mich. Charities prefer that people send money rather than food, medicine or other goods, because in-kind donations force the charities to pay for shipping, delay the arrival of the aid, and saddle relief workers with the task of sorting and distributing items that may not be needed. The problem, according to relief groups, is that many people who are inclined to write checks for emergency aid and reconstruction in Lebanon are afraid of ending up in some government database of suspected supporters of terrorism. Arab American leaders say this is one of the unintended consequences of the U.S. government's crackdown on charities run by Muslims. Though aimed at cutting off illicit funding for terrorist groups, the crackdown has complicated legitimate humanitarian relief efforts in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank."