There are new ties between the American Muslim community and the FBI even in the midst of continuing fears and tensions among Muslims after Sept. 11.
An outreach campaign launched by the FBI is intended to show the Muslim community a “less threatening visage” than investigations and `voluntary interviews’with more than 8,000 Middle Eastern men following the attacks of 9/11. The Baltimore Sun (Oct. 27) reports that some FBI agents note a sense of partnership is emerging after the trust-building efforts of the past two years. Regular meetings with Muslim groups continue to take place. Members of the Muslim community have also come to see that there are advantages in cultivating such relationships. And the FBI itself has a strong interest in recruiting new agents and translators from the Muslim community.
But there is currently a more immediate concern for Muslims, and one which is also linked to the campaign against terrorism. During the holy month of Ramadan, which began this year in late October, Muslims are obligated to give generously to charitable organizations. Because several Islamic charities were investigated following 9/11, many Muslims are afraid they might get into trouble when fulfilling their religious obligation, reports Maureen Hayden in the Evansville Courier & Press (Oct. 27).
Actually, direct donations to Muslim charities are said to have declined by 20 percent in 2002. At a recent meeting with Justice Department officials, representatives of Muslim communities say they suggested to develop more practical guidelines than the ones currently offered, which have had negative effects on donations for helping Muslim countries. It has also been suggested to unfreeze $8 million in assets of the three suspected charities in order to give these funds to US-approved Muslim charities.
— By Jean-François Mayer, RW contributing editor and founder of the website Religioscope (http://www.religioscope.com)