Fact Check: It is false that 75% of the Charities Directorate’s revocations of charities are Muslim, as recent media headlines imply.
Recent media headlines falsely insinuate that the CRA Charities Directorate is prejudiced and targeting Muslim charities. For example, such headlines like “CRA must stop unfairly targeting Muslim charities” and “Canada Revenue Agency’s targeting of Muslim charities amounts to discrimination, says civil liberties group: Report finds 75% of the organizations whose charitable status was revoked were Muslim charities” naturally raise alarms.
These accusations are unfair. These bogus claims are published by the civil rights group, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG). Its research findings are misleading and harm public trust in the integrity of the Charities Directorate. Journalists, repeating these senseless and destructive charges, add authority.
ICLMG goes further and calls on the Prime Minister, and other Ministers to stop the prejudiced audits of Muslim charities. Petitions to politicians violate the principle of the Charities Directorate’s independence. The Charities Directorate’s work must be impartial and without political or partisan interference.
While charity donations going to terrorists is exceptionally rare, it is extremely serious. The Canadian government’s full oversight is needed to protect the integrity of Canada’s charity sector.
Debunking the misleading 75% statistic
This conspiracy theory begins with ICLMG's ‘75%’ statistic; “from 2008 to 2015, 75% of the organizations whose charitable status was revoked following division audits were Muslim charities.”
The headline has a subtle but critical qualification; the findings are based only on “division audits”. This ‘division’ refers to the Charities Directorate’s specialist anti-terrorism financing unit, the Review and Analysis Division (RAD). Between 2008 and 2015, RAD investigated only 16 charities. Eight charities were cleared with no action taken, and eight charities had their status revoked. Of those eight revoked charities, six were Muslim charities. This is the ‘75%’ statistic that kick-starts the hysteria.
For proper context, between 2008 and 2015, the CRA Charities Directorate investigated over 4,800 charities. RAD’s sixteen investigations into counter-terrorism financing were 0.3% of all charity investigations.
Furthermore, between 2008 and 2015, following investigations, the Charities Directorate revoked 243 charities. ICLMG states that eight of these were Muslim charities. That’s 3%.
The more honest statistic for news headlines would be, of the charities revoked by the Charities Directorate following an investigation, 3% were Muslim.
Yet would this nothing 3% number make headlines and garner such outrage? Journalists need to fact-check independent research findings and ensure their reporting gives proper context. Canadians deserve nothing less.
And surely the CRA Charities Directorate is due an apology. Its integrity and impartiality have been dragged through the mud.
Since 1992, following investigations, the CRA Charities Directorate has only revoked 513 charities. Here’s the data to see for yourself that there is no bias or prejudice.
Going forward, and to better defend itself from virulent accusations, the Charities Directorate should post its investigation findings. For example, its full investigation of IRFAN-Canada is posted by Canadian Charity Law. This post’s finale is an exquisite letter from Cathy Hawara, then Charities Directorate’s Director General, to Terrance Carter, IRFAN-Canada’s lawyer. To IRFAN-Canada’s allegations of prejudice towards Muslim charities, Hawara details the CRA’s patient investigation since 1993, and finding IRFAN-Canada’s hidden foreign bank accounts that gave $14.6 million to Hamas. Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization.
Charity Intelligence's report: What lies underneath, a deeper look into the IRFAN-Canada revocation files
ICLMG’s report asks for the Charities Directorate to publicly post all the evidence that resulted in a charity’s revocation. This would be best practice and remove any lingering doubts, Muslim or otherwise.
To learn more:
Jim Bronskill, Muslim charity asks federal court to overturn ‘unfair’ suspension levied by CRA, “The suspension of Human Concern International is just the latest example of the CRA’s unfair targeting of Muslim charities for scrutiny”, Canadian Press, July 16, 2021
Jim Bronskill, Canada Revenue Agency’s targeting of Muslim charities amounts to discrimination, says civil liberties group: Report finds 75% of the organizations whose charitable status was revoked were Muslim charities, Canadian Press, June 9, 2021
Jim Bronskill, Muslim charity going to court to fight ‘unfair’ suspension by Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Press, July 16, 2021
Ryan Tumilty, CRA is unfairly focusing on Muslim charities, civil rights group says: The report found that 75% of the charities who have seen their status revoked were Muslim charities, despite them representing only 0.47% of charities overall, National Post, June 9, 2021
The CRA’s Prejudiced Audits: Counter-Terrorism and the Targeting of Muslim Charities in Canada, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, June 8, 2021
Matthew Green, Member of Parliament, Hamilton Centre Opinion: CRA must stop unfairly targeting Muslim charities, Hamilton Spectator, June 29, 2021
More than 130 groups call on Canada to stop ‘prejudiced audits’ of Muslim charities: Open letter calls on government to issue ‘immediate moratorium’ on audits aimed at Muslim charities, alleging bias and racial prejudice. Middle East Eye, June 25, 2021
Nadia Hasan and Anver Emon’s Under Layered Suspicion: in-depth case studies of the revocation of the three Canadian Muslim charities, 2021 A case study of the revocation of Ottawa Islamic Centre and Assalam Mosque, Islamic Shi’a Assembly of Canada, and IRFAN-Canada
Canadian Charity Law, International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy Canada (IRFAN-Canada) has status revoked, April 11, 2011 “It appears that there may have been more here than just sloppy record keeping”. The Charities Directorate’s investigation from 2004-2010.
Stewart Bell, Toronto charity disputes CRA accusation it was formed to spread ‘Iranian revolutionary ideology in Canada’, Global News February 14, 2019
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