UK charity combats false accusations

A leading British Muslim Charity has said that the so-called War on Terror is not only being fought at the expense of the world's poorest people, but is resulting in a demonisation of Islamic aid agencies.

    Charity work in Palestine is a dangerous business

    Interpal's managing trustee Dr Isam Mustafa said he plans to highlight the double injustice at a conference to be held at the British Library on Thursday under the banner Partners for Peace and Development in Palestine.

    "Interpal, for example, not only works in the hugely difficult circumstances facing the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere, it has also to face unjustified allegations abroad about the nature of its charitable work," he said.

    "And accusations are heaped on even when the professionalism of its operation has been rightly acknowledged by the Charity Commission here in the UK."

    Charity reopened

    Interpal is non-profit British charity that has focused on the provision of relief and development aid to poor and needy Palestinians around the world, primarily in Palestine and the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. 

    But in August 2003, Interpal was subject to classification as a "specially designated global terrorist" (SDGT) entity by the US government. Twenty-seven other Muslim charities were included in the US government's classification.

    "The American authorities were unable to provide evidence to support their allegations so the Commission unfroze the charity's bank accounts and closed its inquiry"

    Geraldine Peacock,
    UK's Charity Commission chairwoman

    Following the designation, the British Charities Commission was forced to freeze Interpal's accounts while the allegations were investigated. 

    Requests for information to support the allegations were fruitless and after extensive investigations, the Charities Commission issued a statement clearing the charity of any wrong doing or ties to so-called terrorist organisations.

    Commission report

    Geraldine Peacock, the chairwoman for Britain's Charity Commission, told journalists that "the charity's assets were frozen as a temporary and protective measure.

    "The American authorities were unable to provide evidence to support their allegations so the Commission unfroze the charity's bank accounts and closed its inquiry", she said.

    However, the classification in the US still stands despite the findings in both 1996 and 2003 by the Charities Commission that Interpal is a "well run and committed organisation which carries out important work".

    Peacock said pressure was still being placed on international authorities and on the British government to close down Interpal operations .

    Thursday's conference is to be attended by government officials and over nine international charities based in the US and Britain.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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