Local Muslims are hopeful the mistrial in the case of an Islamic charity charged with funneling money to the terrorist organization Hamas will give them more freedom to donate to worthwhile organizations.
A federal judge declared the mistrial Monday in a Dallas courtroom after a jury declared five leaders of the Holy Land Foundation of Relief and Development innocent of several charges and did not reach a conclusion on more than 100 other counts. The case was the federal government's largest legal effort to shut down groups it says have been financing terrorist operations in the Middle East.
Dina El-Nakhal, a board member of the Sacramento office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said there should be a huge sigh of relief among Muslims.
"Our justice system prevailed," she said. "The government was really trying to paint an incredibly broad brush and use scare tactics against the whole Islamic community. They were trying to stretch the truth and make connections that weren't there."
Riaz Hasan of Tracy said Holy Land Foundation was the first in a series of national Muslim charities not allowed to accept donations after President Bush froze the charity's assets in December 2001.
"It was a pretty well-known charity, although I haven't personally donated to it," Hasan said.
Yet, Muslims are charged in the Quran to help the poor by donating the equivalent of 2.5 percent of their annual income to charitable works. Charity is one of the five pillars of Islam.
"There's been a real concern because the government's actions have crippled down all the charitable work that's required by our religion," Hasan said. "Many of us have been scrambling around trying to decide how to help people." (MORE)