Hawzah News Agency – The nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization says that charitable foundations, mostly mainstream, are directly and indirectly giving millions of dollars to anti-Muslim hate groups.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations looked at the money trail from 2014 to 2016 from over 1,000 largely mainstream charities to 39 anti-Muslim groups that it calls the "Islamophobia Network." The report, called "Hijacked by Hate," was released Monday. It found that nearly $125 million was funneled to these groups. That includes money that was anonymously given through the charitable foundations of wealth management groups like Fidelity and Schwab.
The hate groups benefiting include ACT for America, the largest anti-Muslim group in the country and a registered nonprofit. The group is described by the Anti-Defamation League as an organization that stokes "irrational fear of Muslims." Others, like CAIR, call it a hate group for its spreading of misinformation about Islam and fearmongering around the principles Muslims live by.
"Traditional charities and foundations — commercial foundations, community organizations, community foundations, religious foundations — these foundations in philanthropy that make America what it is have been undermined," said Abbas Barzegar, director of research and advocacy at CAIR. "[They are being] used, or in my mind exploited, to funnel anonymous money from wealthy donors to the Islamophobia Network."
So, he said, a wealthy donor can give to a credible institution like Schwab, through a donor-advised fund. Then that money will be donated to these anti-Muslim organizations, which are registered as nonprofits or social welfare organizations, through the wealth management group. The donor gets a tax deduction and can make the contribution anonymously.
In a statement to NPR, Schwab Charitable said that it is an independent public charity that "facilitates grants on behalf of individuals to [501(c)(3)] charitable organizations of their choice. Grants that are recommended by our clients in no way reflect the values or beliefs of Schwab, Schwab Charitable or its management."
CAIR is calling for more accountability to stop donors from not only giving to these anti-Muslim groups but from getting a tax break for the donation. Arain said she hopes the report will lead to more oversight in the charitable world.