UC Irvine Sends Muslim Fundraising Complaint to Feds

October 15, 2009 - 4:23 AM
A University of California campus has asked the U.S. Justice Department to look into allegations that money raised at a Muslim student group event went to a terrorist organization.
Irvine, Calif. (AP) - A University of California campus has asked the U.S. Justice Department to look into allegations that money raised at a Muslim student group event went to a terrorist organization.
 
UC Irvine spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon said Wednesday that the university forwarded to federal investigators a complaint that funds collected at a May 21 speech by controversial British politician George Galloway went to his group, Viva Palistina.
 
The Zionist Organization of America, which filed the complaint, said in a statement that the Muslim Student Union, which hosted the event, "illegally used the campus as a base for fundraising for the terrorist group Hamas," and the money raised "may have been for the purpose of providing material support and resources to Hamas."
 
Muslim student leaders say the allegations are false. They acknowledged in a statement that they might have mistakenly breached university policy, which bans such fundraisers. But they argued that the Zionist group filed the complaint as part of a smear campaign to intimidate Muslims and create a hostile environment on campus.
 
Galloway, a longtime anti-war activist, organizes aid convoys to Gaza, but his critics say his group helps terrorist organizations.
 
In 2007, a complaint filed by the Zionist Organization of America prompted a federal civil rights investigation that found insufficient evidence that the university failed to respond properly to complaints about harassment of Jewish students.
 
Jewish student leaders not associated with the organization last year issued a statement saying no one is in danger of experiencing anti-Semitism on campus.
 
Relations between politically active students who disagree about Israeli-Palestinian issues have been tense in recent years.
 
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said a complaint letter was sent to the Department of Justice, but would not comment further.