Muslim charities receive tens of millions from US philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Other charities receiving donations from MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, focus on holding tech companies to account for anti-Muslim hatred and helping young Syrians. (AFP/File Photo)
Other charities receiving donations from MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, focus on holding tech companies to account for anti-Muslim hatred and helping young Syrians. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 30 June 2021

Muslim charities receive tens of millions from US philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Other charities receiving donations from MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, focus on holding tech companies to account for anti-Muslim hatred and helping young Syrians. (AFP/File Photo)
  • MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, wants to empower ‘voices the world needs to hear’ with her $2.86 billion donation
  • Inner City Muslim Action Network, one of the benefactor charities, told Arab News that it plans to use the donation to become an ‘institution’

LONDON: Several Muslim charities operating across the US are among the 286 charities selected to receive a share of the SR10.7 billion ($2.86 billion) donation provided by MacKenzie Scott, who selected the organizations because they are “empowering voices the world needs to hear.” 

“Generosity is generative. Sharing makes more,” Scott wrote in a blog post announcing her donation. 

Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, said her money will go toward furthering higher education for the disenfranchised, strengthening arts and cultural institutions, as it will also go toward “bridging divides” that lead to discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities. Each of the 286 charities will receive $10 million.  

Among the Muslim recipients is the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a community organization that “fosters health, wellness, and healing in the inner-city by organizing for social change, cultivating the arts, and operating a holistic health center.”

Alia Bilal, IMAN’s deputy director, told Arab News that her charity takes a “holistic approach” to the health and wellness of their communities. This extends to caring for community members across criminal justice reform, police accountability, and providing arts and cultural events from their Chicago base and Atlanta satellite office.

“We view ourselves as a community organization that is rooted in Muslim values, culture, and faith in the broadest sense. But that serves anyone and everyone,” Bilal said. 

She continued: “Depending on the service or program we are talking about, the constituents range very widely. With our health center, about 40 percent of the folks we see are Muslim while 60 percent is everything and anything else.

“Where we are based in Chicago happens to be one of the most diverse neighborhoods on the south side. It is made up of African Americans, Latinos and there is still a smattering of Arabs that were born in the 90s.

“IMAN is run by people of various faiths, but it is unapologetically rooted in Muslim values of justice, compassion and mercy,” she said.

Bilal explained that IMAN planned to use Scott’s $10 million donation to turn her organization into an “institution, as opposed to a passing organization.” 

She said: “We envision using these funds in three main ways. One is an investment, which would mean we will not have to run the rat race year in and year out … this gift allows us the possibility to invest for our future.” 

A second area it will be used, Bilal said, is to invest in the charity’s physical infrastructure as new spaces will be purchased and new training facilities will be employed.

And finally: “The third area that we are planning to use this on is our people. We will make sure we maintain the most high-performing, healthiest, and most pleased staff that we can possibly create … we have a staff of incredible people, of leaders.” 

She added: “We want to continue to invest in that.”

Other charities set to receive Scott’s donations are focused on a slew of issues facing Muslims in the US and globally.

Muslim Advocates, a charity focused on “holding Facebook and other tech companies accountable for anti-Muslim hate online,” as well as other issues facing American Muslims, was also selected. 

The charity’s executive director, Farhana Khera, said: “We thank MacKenzie Scott for this extremely generous gift. This money will help further the mission of our Muslim-led organization that is accountable to the Muslim community and works to secure the rights of Muslims and all people.” 

Another charity included was Jusoor — meaning “bridge” in Arabic — which is dedicated to providing educational and entrepreneurship opportunities to young Syrians. Pillars Fund, a charitable organization that invests in community initiatives that advance “justice and opportunity for all,” was also selected.

MacKenzie’s vision, she said, is to amplify the impact of her gifts by empowering others. 

“We believe that teams with experience on the front lines of challenges will know best how to put the money to good use. We encouraged them to spend it however they choose,” she said.

She concluded her blog post, which has been viewed thousands of times, with a “favorite” quote from Islamic poet and scholar Rumi: “A candle as it diminishes explains, gathering more and more is not the way. Burn, become light and heat and help. Melt.”


Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150

Updated 24 sec ago

Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150

Flood deaths in India and Nepal cross 150
  • In Nainital, a popular tourist destination in the Himalayan state, the town’s main lake broke its banks
  • India’s federal interior minister Amit Shah is set to survey affected areas on Thursday
NEW DELHI: More than 150 people have died in flooding across India and Nepal, officials said on Thursday, as unseasonably heavy rains across the region led to flash floods in several areas, stranding residents and destroying homes and infrastructure.
The north Indian state of Uttarakhand has been especially badly-hit, with 48 confirmed deaths, SA Murugesan, secretary of the state’s disaster management department told Reuters.
In Nainital, a popular tourist destination in the Himalayan state, the town’s main lake broke its banks, submerging the main thoroughfare and damaging bridges and rail tracks. And rescuers from India’s paramilitary National Disaster Response Force were evacuating residents from communities hit by landslides.
India’s federal interior minister Amit Shah is set to survey affected areas on Thursday.
Some 42 people have died in the last week in the southern Indian state of Kerala, according to a statement from the chief minister’s office.
In neighboring Nepal, at least 77 people have died.
India’s annual monsoon rains usually run from June to September.

France condemns North Korea missile test

France condemns North Korea missile test
Updated 16 min 14 sec ago

France condemns North Korea missile test

France condemns North Korea missile test

France expressed “great concern” on Wednesday after a ballistic missile fire test conducted on Tuesday by North Korea landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

France condemned the repeated shootings carried out by North Korea in recent weeks, which undermines regional and international peace and security.

France once again urged North Korea to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions to engage in a process of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

A French foreign ministry statement said Paris would meet the U.N. Security Council members Wednesday on the issue.

This story originally appeared in Arab News Japan


Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record

Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record
Updated 27 min 12 sec ago

Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record

Ukraine’s new daily coronavirus cases, deaths hit record
  • There were also 546 new deaths, surpassing the Oct. 19 record of 538
  • Ministry data showed 22,415 new cases over the past 24 hours

KYIV: Ukraine registered a record daily high of new coronavirus infections and related deaths, the health ministry said on Thursday.
Ministry data showed 22,415 new cases over the past 24 hours, exceeding the previous high of 20,341 on April 3.
There were also 546 new deaths, surpassing the Oct. 19 record of 538.


India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab

India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab
Updated 21 October 2021

India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab

India administers its billionth COVID-19 jab
  • Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people has had one shot

NEW DELHI: India administered its billionth Covid-19 vaccine dose on Thursday, according to the health ministry, half a year after a devastating surge in cases brought the health system close to collapse.
According to the government, around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people has had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated.


Democracy languishes 30 years after Cambodia peace deal

Democracy languishes 30 years after Cambodia peace deal
Updated 21 October 2021

Democracy languishes 30 years after Cambodia peace deal

Democracy languishes 30 years after Cambodia peace deal
  • Hun Sen has amassed vast fortunes for his family, while almost 30 percent of Cambodians live barely above the poverty line, says Australian FM Gareth Evans, one of the architects of the peace deal

PHNOM PENH: Three decades after a landmark agreement ended years of bloody violence in Cambodia, its strongman ruler has crushed all opposition and is eyeing dynastic succession, shattering hopes for a democratic future.
The Paris Peace Agreements, signed on October 23, 1991, brought an end to nearly two decades of savage slaughter that began with the Khmer Rouge’s ascent to power in 1975.
The genocidal regime wiped out up to two million Cambodians through murder, starvation and overwork, before a Vietnamese invasion toppled the communist Khmer Rouge but triggered a civil war.
The Paris accords paved the way for Cambodia’s first democratic election in 1993 and effectively brought the Cold War in Asia to an end.
Aid from the West flowed and Cambodia became the poster child for post-conflict transition to democracy.
But the gains were short-lived and Premier Hun Sen, now in his fourth decade in power, has led a sustained crackdown on dissent.
“We did a great job on bringing peace, but blew it on democracy and human rights,” said former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, one of the architects of the peace deal.

Evans said it was a mistake to agree to Hun Sen’s demands for a power-sharing arrangement after the 1993 election.
“Hun Sen has amassed vast fortunes for his family... while almost 30 percent of Cambodians live barely above the poverty line,” he said.
Rights groups say the veteran strongman maintains his iron grip on the country through a mix of violence, politically motivated prosecutions and corruption.
Exiled opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy said the international community lacked the will in 1993 to stand up to Hun Sen, who had been installed as ruler by the Vietnamese in 1985.
“The West had a tendency to wait and see and look for imagined gradual improvements in governance. That clearly did not work,” he told AFP.
“Cambodian politicians also have to accept some blame. Too many found it easier to accept a quiet but lucrative life in government than to say what they really thought.”
Human Rights Watch said that under Hun Sen, “even the patina of democracy and basic rights” has collapsed in recent years.
In 2017, the Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party.
And since the 2018 election — in which Hun Sen’s party won every seat in parliament — the authorities have arrested scores of former opposition members and rights campaigners.
Around 150 opposition figures and activists are facing a mass trial for treason and incitement charges, while the main opposition leader Kem Sokha is facing a separate treason trial.
Covid-19 has seen more curbs, with over 700 people arrested according to the UN rights body, which has warned that most may not have had a fair trial.
The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party insisted it was the “will of the people” to have one party in parliament.
“We have peace, we have political stability, it reflects that we correctly implement the principles of democracy, and there is no abuse of human rights either,” Sok Eysan told AFP.

There has been some international censure — the European Union withdrew preferential trade rates last year over rights abuses — but the pressure shows little sign of translating into change.
“The reality is Cambodia has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of China, like Laos next door, and that means Hun Sen has been able to comfortably thumb his nose at any potential economic or political pressure from elsewhere,” Evans said.
Speculation has simmered that the 69-year-old Hun Sen is grooming his eldest son Hun Manet — a four-star general educated in Britain and the United States — to take over the leadership one day.
But in March, the veteran ruler said he would no longer set a date for his retirement, and activists have little hope that a change in leadership will bring a new direction.
“In Cambodia, we don’t have real democracy,” Batt Raksmey told AFP.
Her campaigner husband was jailed in May for allegedly inciting unrest after he raised environmental concerns about a lake on the edge of Phnom Penh.
“People have no freedom to speak their opinion,” she said. “When they speak out and criticize the government, they are arrested.”