Public benefit or private gain?

Tax relief for sharia?

Iranian adulteressIranian adulteress

Dr.Suhaib Hasan is a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain on issues of sharia law. He would like to introduce sharia law into Britain and feels that :" If sharia law is implemented, then you can turn this country into a haven of peace because once a thief's hand is cut off nobody is going to steal" and "Once, just once, if an adulterer is stoned nobody is going to commit this crime at all." Now, he is stating his mad opinion and he is entitled to do so as we still have a semblance of free speech in Britain. However, the Muslim Council of Britain is a registered charity and, as such, gets tax relief. Should be be promoting such views in this way?

The Charity Commission is implementing the 'public benefit test' introduced by the Charities Act of 2006. This says that to count as a charity, an organisation must prove that it benefits the public and independent schools are worried that they might lose their charitable status. The Commission has produced a 40 page , tautologous document that looks open to subjective interpretation. There is certainly a need to police charities as, at present the law says that you can give only 1% of your income to charity and spend the remainder on 'administration' and still be legal. However, this does look like it will be an extremely bureaucratic and woolly operation.
giving is goodgiving is good

The Charity Commission's investigated Interpal, which has allegedly helped build up Hamas, but said that this " had not been in depth". There is a large charity called Elrahma which buys property and uses that income to fund the charity. It is registered at the same address as two other charities, as was a Muslim school. All three have the same person as a trustee and three members of his family are all trustees of the major charity which has property and savings worth £25 million. Now I'm not implying any wrongdoing, just that a charity should be a discrete organisation with clear aims. These are not. All such charities have the same catchall object which is usually this:

THE RELIEF OF POVERTY AND ADVANCEMENT OF EDUCATION AND RELIGION IN THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND ABROAD AND IN PARTICULAR BUT STRICTLY WITHIN THE LIMITS SET BY THE FOREGOING OBJECTS AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO THEIR GENERALITY TO ASSIST POOR PEOPLE AND ORPHANS OF ISLAMIC RELIGION IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND ABROAD, TO ERECT OR HELP TO ERECT SCHOOLS, CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS, MOSQUES, ORPHANAGES AND NURSERIES FOR THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY IN BRITAIN AND ABROAD; PRIORITY BEING GIVEN TO SUCH CHARITABLE WORKS AS MAY BE CONDUCIVE TO OR AS SHALL FURTHER THE RELIEF OF POVERTY AND SUFFERING AMONG MUSLIMS.
Blair at FettesBlair at Fettes
Now they describe the aim as giving aid to people of 'a particular ethnic origin' and provide grants and schooling to such people. The parents of such children are also charged fees so are the same as the parents of other private schools. So is the Charity Commission going to use strict 'public benefit' criteria to judge private religious schools? According to their document this should be so, yet somehow I doubt it.

Also, under protocol no.1 Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated directly into UK law by the Human Rights Act, requires that:

In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.

However, I bet this won't apply to a secular school. Everyone has their views as to what is a good charity. I hope we won't have too many politically correct judgements; any bets on the Muslim Council of Britain losing its charity status?