PRESSTV | US Muslims gave $1.8bn in charity in 2021 despite rise in hate crimes

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

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)

Muslims have been the target of increasing hostility in the US. (Photo by AP)

Muslim Americans gave an estimated $1.8 billion in charity in 2021, the same year that saw a staggering rise in cases of discrimination and harassment against them, a recent study found.

The Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Indiana University said in a report released last week that Muslim Americans gave an estimated $1.8bn in zakat, an obligatory religious charity, last year.

According to the report, the average Muslim in the country donated around $2,070 in zakat.

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and an annual obligation on all Muslims to pay a tiny portion of their earnings and wealth for charitable purposes.

Shariq Siddiqui, the director of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative, said it was very likely that much of the $1.8bn was donated or pledged during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan when rewards for good deeds are multiplied.

“It is critical that nonprofit organizations and charities find meaningful ways to engage with Muslim-American donors around Ramadan,” Siddiqui was quoted as saying.

The report showed that most of the zakat was paid to international nonprofit organizations.

“Though Zakat is a religious obligation, it’s also a means for us to address social ills in our communities and to address social ills that have impacted people, have impoverished people, have caused difficult lives for people,” Sharif Aly, the chief executive officer of Islamic Relief USA, which funded the study, was quoted as saying by Middle East Eye (MEE) on Monday

‘Anti-Muslim discrimination soared’

Meanwhile, a leading Muslim advocacy and civil rights group says cases of discrimination and harassment against Muslim Americans increased nine percent last year, compared to 2020.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) said in a report published on Monday that it received 6,720 complaints last year, warning that the figures mentioned in its report were still an undercount.

“Islamophobia is structural and deep in our society,” Nihad Awad, Cair’s executive director, said at a news conference on Monday.

“This suspicion is deep because it impacts the lives of millions of American Muslims. It has been escalating for the past three decades since Cair started to document these cases.”

The MEE noted that there was underreporting of the incidents. The Department of Justice (DOJ) recorded only 110 anti-Muslim incidents in its 2020 hate crimes report, down almost 40 percent from the previous year.

The advocacy group urged US President Joe Biden and members of US Congress to actively denounce anti-Muslim bias incidents and hate crimes.

It also recommended that federal law enforcement should prosecute acts of anti-Muslim hate crimes when local law enforcement does not.

“American Muslim communities have been subjected to mass surveillance, deportation, questioning, and other harassment by local and federal law enforcement with no accountability in sight,” the report said.

“This ultimately erodes the trust in law enforcement and results in severe underreporting of hate crimes and bias incidents.”

Anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States have witnessed an alarming rise in recent years, especially during the tenure of former US President Donald Trump, whose rhetoric fueled racism and harassment against Muslims.

The trend has continued, and in some cases become worse, under the new Democratic government led by Joe Biden.


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