National Zakat House to be established for collecting charity
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: A national Zakat (charity) House will be established per a law issued by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, presidential spokesperson Ehab Badawi said in a Wednesday statement.

The house, which will be supervised by Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, will be financially and administratively independent.

The funds of more than 1,000 non-governmental charities were frozen by the Central Bank of Egypt on Dec. 22 on the basis of a Sept. 23, 2013 court decision to dismantle the Muslim Brotherhood and seize its assets.

“The government has not performed its societal role in the fields of health and education and has not provided care for the poor, handicapped, children, elderly and the unemployed for the past three or four decades,” the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said in a Jan. 20 statement expressing concerns over the repercussions of the charities’ freezing on needy communities.

Zakat is the third pillar of the Islamic faith; Muslims are obliged to donate 2.5 percent of any form of their yearly wealth for it.

Muslims can donate their yearly Zakat to one or more of the eight Zakat categories: the poor, the needy, workers who collect them, new converts, to freeing slaves, debtors, in the cause of God and wayfarers.

A board of trustees composed of public figures with expertise in religious studies, economy, finance, business management, law and other relevant fields will run the Zakat House. The rest of the Zakat House resources will be disbursed in other charity venues determined by the board of trustees, according to Badawi’s statement.

The 2013 court ruling included a list of charities that the court deemed to be affiliated with the Brotherhood, which was designated a terrorist organization by the government on Dec. 30 after the bombing of Dakahlia Security Directorate. The group denied any ties to the attack.

A number of major charities, including the Egyptian Food Bank, Orman Charity Association and the Resala Charity Organization, were not included on the list.

Charities and NGOS are strictly controlled by Egypt’s NGO law that entrenches State control and leaves organizations consistently subject to closure if they do not abide by the regime’s “red lines,” the EIPR statement said.

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