The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) is the progeny the Muslim Students Association and the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami movement. ICNA was previously directed by Ashrafuzzaman Khan, who was convicted in absentia by Bangladesh last year for war crimes committed during that country’s war of independence in the 1970s.
Tariq Farid, founder and CEO of the fruit basket company Edible Arrangements, and trustee of the Farid Foundation, has donated money to ICNA. This revelation comes from the Farid Foundation’s own website and from Farid’s attorney, who wrote last week that, “…the Farid Foundation’s only contribution was to a special fund of the ICNA called ‘ICNA Relief USA’, an organization in New York City, which, among other things, helps women with temporary housing.” The lawyer’s statement was made in response to an article published at Blue MauMau, a website for franchisees.
The Blue MauMau article highlighted a lawsuit filed by former Edible Arrangements controller Tara Perino, who says that Farid maintained a hostile workplace and discriminated against non-South Asians and non-Muslims. The lawsuit also describes the Farid Foundation’s support to ICNA: “Farid and his brother, Kamran Farid (Edible Arrangements' Chief Operating Officer), at all relevant times hereto have been the two trustees of a foundation called the Farid Foundation, operated out of the same location as Edible Arrangements. Farid Foundation makes significant contributions to Islamic causes and organizations, including the Farid Foundation Pakistan; the Salma K. Farid Academy; Islamic Circle of North America Relief; the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut; the Inner-City Muslim Action Network; the Wallingford Islamic Center; Masjid AI-Islam; and the Islamic Association of Southern Connecticut.”
The author of the Blue MauMau article, Corbin Williston, noted that, “The head of ICNA at the time the suit was filed was Ashrafuz Zaman Khan”—the same man convicted of war crimes—and that the argument that the ICNA donation was “only” to a special fund wouldn’t comfort the people whose loved ones were tortured and murdered by Khan.
Indeed, and ICNA Relief USA isn’t exactly a ‘special fund’ anyway. It is a tax-exempt entity operated by ICNA. The statement that ICNA Relief USA provides transitional housing to women may be true, but it is quite misleading in terms of the charity’s primary activities: according to their own last tax return, ICNA Relief USA spent just $580,000 on housing for women out of its total $5 million in annual expenses.
On the revenue side, ICNA Relief USA received a $30,000 grant in 2012 from Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a Michigan-based Islamic charity with links to a Pakistani front charity that funds Hamas.
Tariq Farid’s attorney is doing his best to defend his client against some very damaging claims. But an admission that the Farid Foundation donated money to ICNA Relief USA doesn’t do much to clear the air.
Blue MauMau should be commended for reporting on the lawsuit against Edible Arrangements, and for keeping the article on their website despite the demand from Farid’s attorney to retract the article.
Acknowledgment: Thanks to Paul for alerting me to these developments