Muslim body asks court to end federal oversight

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Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Canada’s largest Muslim community organization is going to court, hoping to end federal tax inspection of its activities as a registered charity. The Canadian Muslim League (AMC) claims that its review is discriminatory and infringing on their rights.

The CMA has filed a Notice of Appeal with the Ontario Superior Court in hopes of stopping a tax audit conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency seven years ago. The association, which provides community services, education and youth development, says more than 150,000 Canadians attend its mosques, schools and community centers each year.

In its petition, the organization claims that the revenue agency’s approach has been “tainted by systemic prejudice and Islamophobia” since early 2015.

In a statement released Wednesday, the CMA said that although no decision has been made, a preliminary report that was not submitted threatened “extreme penalties that are completely unwarranted”.

The revenue administration, which will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations in court, emphasized that in the past it did not choose the organizations to be audited based on their beliefs or values, adding that it is highly committed to diversity. the fight against inclusion and racism.

The CMA gives several examples in its arguments about violations of charter rights where it would be subject to a double standard compared to other faith groups.

In a quote attributed to attorney Geoff, may we read against the AMC that “facts that could be regarded as harmless and such for a faith-based organization of a religion other than Islam are held as a basis of doubt”? McCarthy Tetrault Hall.

“This is a classic example of moderation, bias and discrimination,” adds Me Hall.

The evaluation of holiday celebrations not as a religious activity but as a social activity is among the examples given. They may also be criticized that sports and recreational activities for young people are not charitable.

Finally, the revenue agency would seek to establish links between AMC and foreign organizations from four emails selected from the tens of thousands of exchanges analyzed.

“In each of these examples and others, the CRA perceives these perfectly normal interactions as ominous and misleading,” the association says in its press release.

In its application to the court, the organization argues that if it had targeted any other major religious sect, the inspection would never have been carried out in this way.

“The audit report (AMC) found no evidence of involvement in terrorist financing or affiliation with terrorist organisations. However, the audit report relies on Islamophobic sources and discredited newspaper articles to support its claims.

Nearly 100 Muslim and non-governmental organizations jointly signed a letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last summer calling for reforms in enforcement practices, which they said the Revenue Service said had unfairly targeted Muslim bodies.

The groups are also urging the government to overturn a Revenue Service decision that suspends Human Concern International’s right to issue receipts for tax purposes.

During a summit on Islamophobia, Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier agreed to ask taxpayer ombudsman François Boileau to systematically review the issue.

According to the announcement made by the Ombudsman office recently, preliminary meetings were held regarding this process involving all parties. Further discussions are planned and organizations are invited to fill out online surveys to share their experiences.