Religion


Algeria: 'Alms could be funding al-Qaeda' claims US




Algeria, 26 Sept. (AKI) - US diplomats fears alms for the poor given by the Muslim faithful during the holy month of Ramadan, could be being used to finance the activities of al-Qaeda in North Africa, pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi reports.

A US government delegation in recent days has conveyed these concerns during a meeting with Algeria's religious affairs minister, Bouabdullah Ghulamallah, the paper says.

But Ghalamallah reportedly gave the delegation a frosty reception, saying that it is down to Muslims to decide who they give their 'Zakat' (Arabic for alms) to - not his ministry.

'Zakat' is one of the pillars of Islam, i.e. a religious obligation for Muslims.

Ghalamallah also turned down a request by the US delegation for a 'technical' task-force to audit 'Zakat' funds handled by the religious affairs ministry, al-Quds al-Arabi quoted a ministry official as saying.

The only agreement reportedly reached between Ghalamallah and the US delegation was to create a fund to provide interest-free loans to Algeria's poorest families.

The loans will help the families set up small-scale business activities aimed at economic self-sufficiency.

It is estimated that several million dollars worth of 'Zakat' are collected in Algeria each year during Ramadan (which runs from mid-September to mid-October).

Much of this money ends up in a religious affairs ministry current account, which channels it to projects aimed at helping the poor.


 

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