As usual, the westerm media has to smear the genuine efforts of Muslims
who are doing a good job in helping the needy. At least we can see here
that many Muslims are amking tremendous efforts to alleviate the
sufferings of the beleagured Afghani population who is facing world-wide
sanctions from a hostile world.
Islamic aid groups now bake bread, build schools and a mosque in
The Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Before giving away five freshly baked pieces of
bread, Atta Mohammed carefully studied the soiled white card offered up by
a small boy.
The bread was cooked at a bakery run by Al-Rasheed Trust, the largest of
several new Islamic charities to open in Afghanistan. The boy, Hamid, is
the son of a government worker who likely earns less than $4 a month.
In just four months, Kabul's landscape has changed: White signs emblazoned
with the name of the Pakistani-based Al-Rasheed Trust have suddenly
appeared on every other street.
"The money is collected from Muslims clerics all over the world," said
Mohammed. Most aid recipients are poorly paid government servants.
In an advertisement beseeching the faithful for money, Al-Rasheed Trust
asks: "When will the Islamic world wake up for Islam?"
"If there exists just one Islamic nongovernment organization, then there
is no need for other NGOs to come here," said Naim Safi of the Taliban
After five years of virtual Taliban control of Afghanistan, it is only now
that Islamic charities have begun to arrive in the country in significant
numbers. Their proliferation coincides with an attempt by the Taliban to
impose controls on international mostly Western aid organizations.
This year, the Taliban have ordered every aid organization, including the
United Nations, to submit a list of Afghan and foreign employees; to
detail their projects; and to explain their finances. The Taliban also
have threatened to take over some groups and shut down others.
Most recently, authorities closed three Western aid organizations on
charges of preaching Christianity a serious crime in this Muslim nation
arresting eight foreign and 16 Afghan workers. Two of the foreign aid
workers now on trial are Americans.
The arrests of the Afghans terrorized other local aid workers, who fear
they will be accused of flirting with Christianity a crime that can carry
the death penalty.
Some Western aid workers worry the Taliban are trying to force out
international aid groups.
"If they can bring in the Islamic NGOs and kick us out they would be happy
because we are a pain, we complain about human rights, we are witnesses,"
said an international aid worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity for
fear of reprisals.
Some of the new Islamic organizations are secretive and refuse interviews.
Al-Rasheed Trust has links with the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed and
its radical leader, Massood Azhar one of three men freed from Indian jails
in 1999 in exchange for a hijacked Indian plane and its passengers.
Two other groups Al Akhtar Trust and Al Mujahedeen Trust are
Pakistani-based and share the Taliban's strict brand of Islam. Their
leaders criticize Western aid organizations as purveyors of obscenity,
vulgarity and Christianity.
Al Akhtar is building mosques and repairing a military hospital in
Kandahar, the Taliban headquarters. It is building a university for men
and a mosque for women. But no schools will be built for women, says
Mohammed Mazhar, the Pakistani head of the organization.
In Kabul, Al Akhtar runs aid projects at an orphanage for boys 13 years
Al Mujahedeen Trust was started by Pakistan's radical Islamic leader,
Fazl-ur Rehman, who has campaigned in Pakistan against international aid
organizations, accusing them of flouting tradition and trying to liberate
Then there is Wafaa Organization for Humanitarian Work, run on donations
from Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. The head of the
organization refuses to speak to women. It operates health and education
programs in Kabul.
In four months, Al-Rasheed Trust has set up 29 bakeries to provide bread
to the poor in Kabul. It plans eventually to operate 50 bakeries,
one-third the number operated by the U.N. World Food Program in Kabul.
"That's not a small amount," said Peter Goossens, WFP representative in
Kabul. "Until Al-Rasheed came on the scene it was just us."
"You see the increase in Islamic aid groups because we are getting more
applications for food programs from international Islamic NGOs," said
Goossens. "You rarely saw them in the past."
Other new Islamic aid organizations are based in Kuwait, Sudan and other
Arab countries. All say their money is private.
Not all new Islamic charities espouse the same strict version of Islam
practiced by the Taliban.
The Canadian Relief Foundation, an Islamic group based in Canada, came
here last November.
"The whole idea is to bring NGOs representing the Muslims of North America
and Europe to Afghanistan," said Fadil Dillman, a Canadian who heads the
Canadian Relief Foundation in Kabul. "I think this will lead really toward
the improvement of the image of Afghanistan."
Since arriving, Dillman has registered two other Islamic charities with
the Taliban: the Global Relief Foundation of Chicago and the Benevolence
International Fund of Toronto.
Until now, Muslims of North America and Europe have shied away from
Afghanistan, either because they disagree with the Taliban's
interpretation of Islam or because they fear being branded as terrorists
or both, said Dillman.
The presence of moderate Muslim organizations is critical, he said.
"Groups of these kind of Muslims shows the world that Muslims operate here
who are modern, who work with other western organizations, like the United
Nations, as a team," Dillman said. "We want to give another face to
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term "crime of apartheid." This includes similar policies and practices
of segregation and discrimination as practiced in South Africa and
which also apply to inhuman acts committed for the purpose of the
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with the full support of the USA.