Religious charity stripped of status amid claims it is “above Australian law”
An Islamic group has had their charity status revoked following on from illegal clearings of a rural block in Sydney and self-proclaimed suggestions that it was exempt from Australian law.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has stripped the charity, Diwan Al Dawla, of its charity status following an investigation. Notably, the charity was highlighted for its legal battle with the Hawkesbury City Council.
“No charity is above the law,” said ACNC Commissioner, Dr Gary Johns. “The ACNC is here to ensure charities do the right thing. When concerns are reported to us, we take them seriously. We investigate and take appropriate action.”
The men behind the charity were ordered by the Land and Environment Court to remove illegal structures and remediate cleared land on Colo, NSW property. They are facing contempt of court charges for refusing to stop the illegal building on the property after being ordered to stop.
Mustapha Kara-Ali, the Imam of Diwan Al Dawla, and Diaa Kara-Ali, who is also part of the charity, have been fighting contempt of court charges over the cleared land. Kara-Ali claimed the group was not subject to Australian law because it was an Islamic religious charity.
Kara-Ali told ABC that the ACNC did not have reason to revoke the charity status and said the decision was “horrendous” as it has a religious purpose.
“The fact that I’ve personally committed an apparently illegal act [shouldn’t affect the guild],” Kara-Ali said. “…This is religious vilification…we are being targeted and we believe it’s because of our religion and our race.”
The ACNC is prevented from presenting any further findings on the reasons behind the revocation due to privacy concerns, but Johns said the “revocation of charity status is the most serious action the ACNC can take”.
“By revoking Diwan Al Dawla’s charity registration, the organisation is no longer able to access Commonwealth tax concessions,” said Johns.