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Freeze on group's assets questioned by U.S. Muslims

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(Washington, DC, 12/4/2001)

National American Muslim organizations today asked President Bush to reconsider his decision to freeze the assets of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), one of the nation's largest Muslim charities.

The charity had been targeted by pro-Israel organizations and individuals for several years because of what they said was the group's support for Palestinian militants. HLF officials have consistently denied those charges and no one has made public any concrete evidence to support today's action. The only specific accusation made against HLF has been that among the thousands of Palestinians who received its relief aid were the children of suicide bombers.

In a joint statement issued today, the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Council (AMC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and Muslim Student Association of USA and Canada, said:

"American Muslims support President Bush's effort to cut off funding for terrorism and we call for a peaceful resolution to the Middle East conflict. These goals will not be achieved by taking food out of the mouths of Palestinian orphans or by succumbing to politically-motivated smear campaigns by those who would perpetuate Israel's brutal occupation.

"No relief group anywhere in the world should be asked to question hungry orphans about their parent's religious beliefs, political affiliations or legal status. Those questions are not asked of recipients of public assistance whose parents are imprisoned or executed in the United States, and they should not be a litmus test for relief in Palestine.

"Charity is a duty for people of all faiths. In fact, it is one of the five 'pillars' of Islam. Islamic charities in this country help American Muslims fulfill their religious obligation to help orphans and the needy. The frozen assets therefore belonged not to HLF, but to the entire Muslim community. This action is particularly disturbing, coming as it does during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a time when Muslims make many of their annual charitable donations.

"We ask that President Bush reconsider what we believe is an unjust and counterproductive move that can only damage America's credibility with Muslims in this country and around the world and could create the impression that there has been a shift from a war on terrorism to an attack on Islam."

HLF'S STATEMENT ON THE FREEZING OF THEIR ASSETS

Below is a statement from the Holy Land Foundation released early Tuesday after the Bush Administration froze the organization's assets.

"The Holy Land Foundation denies allegations that it provides any financial support to terrorist groups or individuals.

The foundation is a humanitarian organization that has worked to serve the needy both at home and abroad since 1989.

We feel the Holy Land Foundation has been unfairly targeted in the nationwide smear campaign to undermine Muslims and the institutions that serve them.

The decision by the U.S. government to seize the charitable donations of Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan is an affront to millions of Muslim Americans who entrust charities like ours to assist in fulfilling their religious obligations.

We are confident that the Holy Land Foundation will eventually be cleared of these allegations."


     


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