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Is the Charity Commission biased against Muslim charities?

Is the Charity Commission biased against Muslim charities?

Categories: Latest News

Monday August 04 2014

Sam Burne, in the voluntary sector publication Third Sector offers an analysis of perceptions among Muslim charities of being unfairly targetted by the Charity Commission. Noting the Chair of the Charity Commission William Shawcross’ claims that “Islamist” extremism is the “deadliest threat” to charities and the regulator’s ensuing efforts to monitor cases and open statutory inquiries into Muslim charities, Burne assesses whether the Muslim charities are right to detect ‘bias’.

Burne observes that 5 of the 20 (25%) most recent statutory inquiries announced by the Commission involve Muslim charities. While over 180,000 charities are registered with the Commission, approximately 2,000 registered charitable organisations can be identified as Muslim (1.1%). Indeed, it is overwhelmingly clear, as Burne points out, that this is “hugely disproportionate” and that consequently “it is hard to see where risk-based monitoring ends and bias begins”.

In similar vein, the head of the charity chief executives body ACEVO, Sir Stephen Bubb, highlighted concerns raised in a recent meeting with the heads of British Muslim charities of a “perception of bias” in the Commission’s activities in recent months.

According to the Third Sector article, the Commission has gone further and launched monitoring cases into the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation over their funding of the Muslim human rights organisation, Cage.

Cage’s communication officer Amandla Thomas-Johnson notes the impact on Muslim organisations of the Commission’s treatment of them. Referring to the ICM/Just Giving poll which showed that Muslims are, per capita, the highest contributors to charity, Thomas-Johnson said “You’re in effect stopping money from going to causes that are worthwhile, and I think that’s very irresponsible”.

Despite the Charity Commission’s inquiries, Muslim charities hoped to raise £50 million in donations during the month of Ramadan.

Burne further discerns that the perception of bias might be reinforced by the backgrounds of some of the Commission’s officers.

The chief executive of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross, wrote the book “Allies: Why the West Had to Remove Saddam”, in which he laid bare his staunch support for the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

And board member, Peter Clarke, a former counter terrorism officer, was appointed by Celsius 7/7 author and former Education Secretary Michael Gove, to lead the Department for Education inquiry into the alleged Trojan Horse ‘takeover’ plot in Birmingham schools. Moreover, Burne raises concerns over the Commission’s ethnic diversity with board member, Nazo Moosa, due to leave next month.

It remains to be seen whether the chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Sir Stuart Etherington, will also observe “bias” when he meets with Muslim charities this month to discuss their relationship with the Commission.


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