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Canada The 2015 National Risk Assessment Directive Targets Muslim Charities and Has Emboldened the CRA

14:32  25 june  2021
14:32  25 june  2021 Source:   calgaryherald.com

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Last week’s vigil in London, Ontario, for the victims of an Islamophobic mass murder drew many leaders who expressed solidarity with the Muslim community. Chief among them was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself, who reassured everyone that his Liberals are crusaders against hate.

Justin Trudeau wearing a suit and tie: Prime Minister Justic Trudeau says his government is a crusader against hate, but federal government audits of Muslim charities reveal Islamophobic tendencies, writes Dr. Mukarram Zaidi. © Provided by Calgary Herald Prime Minister Justic Trudeau says his government is a crusader against hate, but federal government audits of Muslim charities reveal Islamophobic tendencies, writes Dr. Mukarram Zaidi.

But his message does not line up with recent media reports that his government has presided over some of the worst targeting of Muslim charities in Canadian history.

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Yes, it’s true. The government that has spoken against Islamophobia for years has quietly and consistently continued to dismantle Muslim organizations doing good work and that are dependent on charitable status to function, a direction that started under the Harper government.

Revoking this status, among other tactics, has been a common way to “keep the Muslims in check” after 9/11. The government kicked it into high gear in 2015 when the Department of Finance released a “National Risk Assessment (NRA)” that arbitrarily determined, without providing much by way of evidence or allowing any public debate, that a “nexus in Canada” exists in connection to Islamist terrorist financing.

The result? The CRA has been going to town on Muslim charities, including mosques and relief organizations, to look for this “nexus” with an aggression that amounts to Islamophobia.

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A major report by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group  — a coalition of civil society organizations — details how the CRA’s Charities Directorate and Review and Analysis Division (RAD) have, with impunity, selected Muslim organizations based on their faith and revoked their status while presenting flimsy evidence. Since coming to power, the Liberals pumped money into the RAD division, which then revoked the charitable status of at least four major Muslim organizations from 2016-2019 — a pretty alarming rate compared to the six they shafted between 2008-2015. None of these groups has ever been charged with giving terrorists money, but the RAD division doesn’t have to explain itself, which means that for some of these organizations they can’t even see the evidence marshalled against them. So much for due process.

It’s misleading to call any of this a huge revelation. The University of Toronto and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) recently published their own independent report on how the CRA undertakes “random” tax audits that undermine Muslim-led charities while providing “evidence” that looks a lot like age-old Islamophobic stereotypes. The Muslim community has long claimed that the CRA’s audit practices are biased and their revocations are killing valuable resources relied upon by the most vulnerable or the community at large.

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Needless to say, this doesn’t do much for trust between community members and the government. They’re much more likely to accuse government institutions of perpetuating the same ideas and assumptions that contribute to an Islamophobic climate, which in turn fuels anti-Muslim hate.

For years the government has relied upon the Muslim community to help in combating extremism and radicalization. By suffocating the community by revoking respected organizations and destroying the reputation of its leadership, the government is sending the wrong message that “all Canadian Muslim institutions are a threat until proven otherwise.”

So how do we get out of this mess? Well, it all comes down to accountability. The government created the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) in 2018 and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) in 2019 with the explicit purpose of keeping a closer eye on Canada’s security apparatus. According to the ICLMG report, the RAD division works closely with security agencies and has its own surveillance activities, but neither of these entities have done much to oversee how RAD picks its targets and how it does its job.

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The RAD division needs to stop its audit of Muslim charities pending an independent investigation and review of its conduct. Genuinely random audits should obviously continue, but the pretence of “randomly” selecting Muslim-led organizations for audits needs to end. Additionally, audit findings must be based on credible evidence. Blog articles by conspiracy theorists and Islamophobes don’t count. Organizations must be given adequate opportunity to rebut the evidence against them.

The same goes for that deeply harmful 2015 NRA, which basically gave RAD a green light to swipe at Muslim charities. It’s due for a public review and debate. Such sweeping mandates should be regularly reviewed, along with the RAD and the CRA’s other anti-terrorism activities.

These are basic asks for a government that courts the Muslim vote with so much enthusiasm. It can’t be allowed to get away with perpetuating hidden, entrenched and systemic Islamophobia while Justin Trudeau continues to reassure everyone that things are running perfectly fine.

Dr. Mukarram Zaidi serves as the chairman of Calgary-based Think for Actions, the chairman of Canadian Muslim Research Think Tank, and the general secretary for Calgarians Against Racism, Violence and Hate. Dr. Zaidi practices family medicine in Calgary.

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This is interesting!