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Over 130 groups urge Canada to halt 'prejudiced targeting' of Muslim charities

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of the Muslim community and supporters gather for a multi-faith "March to End Hatred" on June 11, 2021 in London, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by AFP)

More than 130 Canadian civil society groups, charities and Muslim institutions have called for a probe into what they describe as “Islamophobic” tax audits that unfairly target Muslim charities.

"Targeting Muslim charities on the basis of terrorist financing suspicions simply because of the religion they uphold is Islamophobic and prejudiced," they said in a letter, sent to the Ottawa government.

The letter called on the government to issue a review of the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) processes in auditing charitable organizations in the country to ensure a lack of bias or racial prejudice.

“Dismantling this prejudice is the first step in fighting against hate,” added the letter, also signed by groups such as the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Edmonton Islamic Center and London Muslim Mosque, which have been hit hard in recent months by anti-Muslim attacks targeting their communities.

"The profiling and targeting of the Muslim community is, in and of itself, deeply damaging and a violation of fundamental rights," the letter read, calling for an "immediate moratorium" on all audits targeting Muslim charities until a review is completed.

"Not only are Muslim organizations being targeted by the government with questionable and unfounded allegations of promoting radicalization, the process of an audit, and possible revocation, creates a chilling effect that can cripple the Canadian Muslim charitable community," it added.

The letter also called on Ottawa to undo “systemic racism” in government policies in the name of “national security,” adding, "Action on this is urgent and crucial. It is imperative to address and undo systemic racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia in Canada's pursuit of 'national security'." 

Meanwhile, another recently released report from the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group also confirmed that the CRA worked with national security agencies to carry out audits that unfairly target Muslim charities with little accountability.

The study, which probed CRA conduct from 2008 to 2015, pointed out that 75 percent of the organizations whose charitable status was revoked following audits were Muslim charities. It also noted that at least another four charities have had their status removed since then.

For instance, the CRA revoked the charitable status of the Ottawa Islamic Center in May 2020 claiming that mosque speakers had pursued "activities that promote hate and intolerance."

The report further emphasized that despite the revocations, none of the Muslim charitable agencies or associated individuals had been charged with a terrorist-financing crime.

When organizations lose their charitable status, donors can no longer claim the funds as a tax deduction, causing a significant drop in contributions.

This comes amid rising instances of attacks across Canada against Muslim citizens and Islamic places of worship that authorities have admitted were “motivated by hate.”

In the latest "hate-fueled act" against Canadian Muslims, two young female siblings wearing the Islamic headdress of hijab were attacked earlier this week by a knife-wielding white man shouting racial slurs near the western city of Edmonton.

According to local press reports, one sister was grabbed by her hijab and thrown to the ground and knocked unconscious. The other sister was also struck to the ground and a knife was held at her throat while the suspect continued to scream racial slurs before running away.

Another deadly attack on Canadian Muslims came nearly two weeks ago as another white man in the eastern Ontario city of London plowed his pickup truck into a Muslim family of five, killing four of them and seriously injuring the other in a deliberate attack that targeted the victims because they looked Muslim.

“This was an act of mass murder perpetuated against Muslims,” London Mayor Ed Holder said. “It was rooted in unspeakable hatred. The magnitude of such hatred can make one question who we were as a city.”


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