Kuwait Islamic Groups Shut Donation Booths Amid Government Crackdown
Kuwait's main Islamic charities have started closing down illegal donation booths across the country, apparently responding to a government clampdown on funds accused of allegedly supporting terrorism.
Hundreds of donation booths, which for years have collected funds outside cooperative societies, mosques and in markets, are now being shut down and moved away, an AFP correspondent saw.
"The message is out that the government wants to speed up the process of cracking down on illegal charities," said one observer.
"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 told AFP.
"The donation booths and boxes will go first, then the government will concentrate on the illegal charity committees themselves," he added.
Earlier this month, Kuwait's cabinet established a Supreme Council for Charity Work to "organize" the country's Islamic charities, 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.
They 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.
"I'm very pleased with the cooperation and readiness shown by officials of these organizations, especially with regard to charity," First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah recently said.
He said Islamic charities would be under government control, although they were not officially accused of having links to suspected international terrorist networks.
He 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 charity organisations.
A UN Security Council resolution approved last month requested member states to crack down on the sources of financial and logistical support for terrorist groups -- Kuwait City, (AFP)
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