Islamic charity asks court to shut down federal audit

Canada’s largest grassroots Islamic organization is asking the court to stop a federal audit of its activities as a registered charity, alleging the investigation was discriminatory. prosecute and violate the charter rights of this organization.

The Muslim Association of Canada is filing a notice in the Superior Court of Ontario in an attempt to block the Canada Revenue Agency process initiated seven years ago.

The association, which promotes community service, education and youth empowerment, says more than 150,000 Canadians use mosques, schools and community centers each year.

The association stated in the court filing that since the revenue agency’s audit began in 2015, the association has been “polluted by systematic bias and Islamophobia.”

The association said in a press release that although no decision has been made, the resulting audit report, which has not been made public, threatens the charity “with sanctions”. radically unjustified by the revenue agency’s findings”.

The revenue agency, which will have the opportunity to answer in court, has previously said it does not select registered charities for audits based on any particular creed or denomination, it added. , this agency is uncompromisingly dedicated to diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.

Geoff Hall, an attorney for the charity, said the Islamic Association’s charter challenge would explore cases where the revenue regulator had tried to apply standards to the association that would does not apply to any other faith community.

“This audit is a prime example of prejudice and discrimination.”

The association opposes several of the revenue agency’s allegations, including:

– the association’s activities, such as Eid, are not religious but social;

– sports, social and recreational activities aimed at youth that do not provide a charitable benefit;

— there were purported links between the association and foreign organizations, a finding based on four emails out of tens of thousands of emails reviewed by the agency.

“In each of these and other examples, the CRA considers such perfectly normal interactions to be sinister and deceptive,” the statement said.

The court filing alleges the audit would never have been approached in this way if the organization in question had links to any other major world religion.

The association stressed that the audit report did not find any evidence that the charity was involved in terrorist financing or links with terrorist organisations. “However, the audit report relies on Islamic sources and reputable news articles to support its allegations.”

The court applied for an order to suspend the audit on the grounds that it violated the association’s charter ensuring equality and freedom of religion, speech and association.

Additionally, it wants the revenue agency to complete the audit in a way that doesn’t violate the association’s rights.

Nearly 100 Muslim organizations and civil society groups sent a letter last summer to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling on him to reform the revenue agency’s auditing practices, accusing them of targeting unfairly on Muslim charities.

The groups also asked the Liberal government to overturn the revenue agency’s decision to suspend another Muslim charity’s ability to issue tax receipts, Ottawa-based Human Concern International.

Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier agreed during a national summit on phobias to ask the taxpayer’s ombudsman, François Boileau, to systematically assess the concerns.

Preliminary meetings have taken place with revenue agency officials and various parties, including charities, to understand their concerns and identify any issues, the ombudsman’s office said. said in a recent update.

More meetings are planned and charities are invited to respond to an online questionnaire about their experiences.

This Canadian Press report was first published on April 13, 2022.

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