Editorial: A complex situation for Muslim charities

Action by the security services and the Charity Commission inevitably attracts more publicity than the positive contributions Muslim-led charities make, writes the editor of Third Sector

Stephen Cook
Stephen Cook

During the floods in February, Muslim Aid sent volunteers to help with the clean-up in the Thames valley and parts of Somerset. It wanted to show it was focused on disasters wherever they happened, not just abroad. Some of the people they helped were surprised to see them, but the episode did a lot for community relations.

Fifty years ago, there were probably few Muslim-led charities in the UK. There are now estimated to be about 2,000, many of them mosques or concerned mainly with international aid and development. Charity is one of the five pillars of Islam, and a recent survey showed Muslims to be the country's most generous givers.

Some charities, usually through no fault of their own, have fallen under the shadow of the civil war in Syria. Action by the security services and the Charity Commission inevitably attracts more publicity than, say, the fact that Muslim charities were among those raising money for the family of Alan Henning after he was murdered by Islamist extremists. Our feature looks at the bigger picture.

Meanwhile, the fledgling Charity Commission of Northern Ireland is making progress with compiling the register and system of administration that will bring it into line with regulation in other jurisdictions in the UK. The Republic of Ireland is also setting up a new regulatory body, thus completing the network. Our article finds the process has not been easy, partly because of past and continuing conflict between unionists and republicans. In the past HM Revenue & Customs has been the arbiter of charitable tax advantages in the region, but more organisations stand to share those advantages as they become registered.

Finally, our interview with Jackie Ballard is a treat. She's been around, has achieved a lot and is prepared to reveal more about herself than many sector leaders.

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