Opinion: "The Hizbullah Factor Poses Dilemma for American Muslim Charities"

September 15, 2006

Source: New America Media/Pakistan Link


On September 15, 2006 New America Media/Pakistan Link published a commentary by Abdus Sattar Ghazali, executive editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective: "Attracting charities to help rebuild Lebanon in the aftermath of Israeli rampage has once again highlighted the problem faced by the Muslim charities in the post-9/11 America. While various groups and organization were busy in easily raising millions of dollars for Israel, Muslim and Arab groups were facing serious difficulties in raising money for the reconstruction of Lebanon devastated by attacks on mainly civilian targets such as residential buildings, bridges, industries and infrastructure. Since the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, the Arab and Muslim charities were able to collect only two million dollars nationwide, according to Buena Park, CA-based Islamic Relief. It was an atmosphere fueled by fear that hindered their efforts. 'A lot of people are afraid of donating to Middle East causes because they're afraid they'll be accused of supporting something other than humanitarian causes,' said Duston Barto, spokesman for the Zakat Foundation of America... So far, the government has not issued specific guidelines for operating in Lebanon and instead has encouraged charities to practice 'due diligence' to ensure that their assets are used for charity and not diverted to 'finance terrorism.' After Sept. 11, 2001, the government issued general guidelines meant to help charities maintain transparency and prevent money from being diverted to groups or individuals that the government has designated as terrorists. It also created a list of some 400 individuals and organizations, including 43 charities, that it accuses of funding terrorism."