Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Charity Commission: openness, not 'zero tolerance' machismo
This morning’s Times carried my letter responding to Monday’s story about the Charity Commission and Muslim charities. A frankly terrifying piece that seemed to frame an independent report criticising the Commission’s effectiveness into a news story impugning the integrity of Muslim Charities themselves.
Whilst we can’t rule out the theoretical risk of charity funds ending up in the hands of ‘Islamic extremism’– and indeed some Muslim charities referred themselves to the Charity Commission to help audit some of their on-the-ground spending on aid in Syria – it is dangerous and counterproductive to continue attacking Muslim charities as a whole. My letter explains that on the contrary, the UK must make the most of our excellent Islamic charities as our best vehicles for building a common national identity and fostering leadership and purpose in Muslim communities to help combat the risk of marginalisation and radicalisation. Here it is:
Sir, I recently met a delegation of Islamic charities, large and small, that help vulnerable people in this country and abroad (“Charities suspected of Muslim extremist links”, Nov 17). Their work is a positive example to people everywhere, whatever their faith. If they are tainted by perception and association, their work is compromised. Ironically, such groups are our best opportunity to create a common sense of belonging and purpose that prevents radicalisation and extremism.
We require openness and sensitivity on these issues, not “zero tolerance” machismo. The Charity Commission must be transparent about how it has reached these decisions and the processes it has undertaken. Trust in charities is important, and that must be complemented by trust in the charity’s regulator. Otherwise we must consider other arrangements.
Sir Stephen Bubb
Chief Executive, ACEVO