California Muslims Fearing Backlash



The continuing crackdown on international charities alleged to have
terrorist links is having a chilling effect on all giving by American
Muslims, Southern California Muslims said this week. Giving to Inland area
mosques appears to be stable, however.

Charitable giving takes on special significance with the approach of
Ramadan on Oct. 14, local Muslims said. Ramadan is a month of fasting and
prayer during which many Muslims give their zakat to help people in need.
Muslims are expected to donate 2.5 percent of the money left after paying
household expenses for the year. Zakat, or almsgiving, is one of the Five
Pillars of Islam.

Ramadan also is a time when many Muslims travel to be with friends and family.

That is why the deportation last week of Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly
known as Cat Stevens, is especially disconcerting, area Muslims said.

"We were surprised and perplexed that Islam was detained and deported
because he has a long history of working for peace and denouncing
terrorism," Sabiha Khan, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic
Relations, said from the group's Anaheim office.

American Muslims were concerned about their ability to travel even before
Islam was deported, Khan said. With many Muslims planning to travel during
Ramadan, those concerns were exacerbated by Islam's deportation, she said.

"There's been concern about people traveling back and forth and how much
they're scrutinized on the plane," Khan said. "Americans didn't know the
extent of it until Yusuf Islam…"

Hussam Ayloush, Southern California executive director of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, said contributions to CAIR are up.

"Civil rights have become a priority for the Muslim community," Ayloush, a
Corona resident, said by phone. "People also are spending in areas where
there is the least controversy. CAIR has benefited, but I'm not happy with
that trend. Feeding orphans and widows is equally important. It breaks my
heart when I see that people are making those choices out of fear and
intimidation.

 


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