Kuwait names members of council to organize Islamic charities
Kuwait's cabinet on Sunday, October 28, named the members of a Supreme Council for Charity Work, which mainly includes prominent members of Islamic charities in addition to security and government officials.
A statement released after the weekly cabinet meeting said the 14-member council would "organize charity work and direct it to purposes that will achieve its supreme goals, and lay down policies and regulations to collect and disburse money inside and outside Kuwait."
The council is headed by Social Affairs Minister Talal Al-Ayyar. Its members represent the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), the fundamentalist Salafi movement, the Zakat (Alms) House, the interior ministry, in addition to a number of Islamic charities.
Kuwait's main Islamic charities have closed down hundreds of donation booths around the country, apparently responding to a government clampdown on funds alleged to support terrorism. The booths, which for years have collected funds outside cooperatives and mosques and in markets, have been shut down and moved away.
"The message is out that the government wants to speed up the process of cracking down on illegal charities," one observer told AFP earlier this week. "Earlier suggestions that the government give illegal charities a two-month period to fold their activities seem to have been rejected; the government wants to do it a lot quicker," he said.
"The donation booths and boxes will go first, then the government will concentrate on the illegal charity committees themselves," he added. The cabinet announced earlier this month that it had established the council while reiterating its condemnation of all forms of terrorism.
Since the September 11 terror attacks in the United States, Kuwait's liberals have called for tougher government measures to control the financial operations of Islamic charities. hey claim that at least 100 such charities are operating illegally and collecting funds that allegedly support terrorist organizations abroad.
The country's main Islamic charitable societies have refuted such charges, repeatedly saying they welcome any additional government controls and measures to organize and develop their work. First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has said Islamic charities would come under government control, although they were not officially accused of having links to suspected international terrorist networks.
Sheikh Sabah also said the Central Bank of Kuwait as well as the ministries of finance and social affairs have been requested to submit to the United Nations a report on the collection and distribution of funds by Kuwaiti charities. A UN Security Council resolution approved last month requested UN member states to crack down on the sources of financial and logistical support for terrorist groups. — (AFP, Kuwait City)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)