• Aslam Abdullah

ISGH, Emgage and TX-22 Elections

What a confusion and what a deception!

Eight out of nine Shura members of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston held a meeting to discuss Emgage and its politics. Emgage defines itself as a political action committee for Muslims. AJ Durrani, an Emgage officer-bearer, was present. The meeting ended with a tie. Four members, Nusrat Mir, Aiman Khalil, Abdul Kalam Azad, and Javed Malik, favored suspending relations with Emgage. At the same time, President Syed Suhail, Faizan Atiq, Badar Alam, and Haroon Dosani voted for supporting the organization.

Using his veto power, the President decreed to continue with the status quo, even though in an earlier statement sent to Shura members, he agreed with those who wanted to sever relations with Emgage. It is reported that he said that he agreed with arguments that the top leadership of Emgage has made some major mistakes recently, and those mistakes should be corrected. Yet, when the time to action came, he betrayed his own words. During and after the meeting, he was in touch with Emgage office bearers and reporting to them.

In his presentation, AJ, Durrani could not distinguish between Emgage as a non for profit organization and Emgage as a PAC.

A 501 C organization cannot endorse a candidate, and a PAC is not tax-exempt. In return for its favored tax-status, a charitable nonprofit promises the federal government that it will not engage in "political campaign activity." If it does, IRS regulations mandate that the charitable nonprofit will lose its tax-exempt status. This prohibition against political campaign activity (defined as "supporting or opposing a candidate for public office") is separate from lobbying or legislative activities, which charitable nonprofits can engage in, although knowing the rules is essential, as limitations apply.

A Political Action Committee has a separate taxpayer ID #.

Before voting on ties with Emgage, ISGH president could have ensured its tax status. Emgage endorsed President Biden for 2020 as it endorsed Sri Preston Kulkarni in the 2018 Congressional District-22 election. Which Engage endorsed Biden or Kulkarni was not evident in the presentation. This unclarity may jeopardize both Emgage and ISGH status. ISGH cannot support a candidate.

An average voter does not know the difference between Emgage as a PAC and a non Profit group. This ambiguity may lead the IRS to investigate its finances. Are there separate office-bearers for these two types of Emgage? Which Emgage uses the one million dollars donated by Soros? How much of that money is used for fundraising money for Emgage PAC?

Emgage officials and volunteers are vocal supporters of the Hindutva candidate in Texas, and Kulkarni may use Emgage's association with ISGH as an endorsement of the highest Muslim body in Houston.

A safer way for ISGH was to suspend its relations with Emgage until its leadership clarifies its status and explains its ties with Hindutva and Zionists. The Presidential veto might hurt the organization in the long run.

Several prominent Emgage office bearers were in Israel to promote Zionist interest and legitimacy in illegally occupying the Palestinian land. They received stipend from resources raised through exploiting Palestinians. Their conversation with the Zionist leaders is on record. They failed to raise the issue of Israel's continued land grab with the apartheid state's leaders. The least the organization should have done is not to hire them as its officials. Their constant presence proves that Emgage does not want to address this issue and wants to pursue its pro-Zionist action.

ISGH is one of the best organized Muslim community structures. It has the support of the people who expect it to maintain its neutrality in elections and its opposition to injustices perpetrated by the Zionists and Hindutva. People around the country view ISGH as a model for intracommunity cooperation. It has given Muslims a sense of purpose and unity beyond race, ethnicity, and culture.

One hopes that the ISGH would review its decision to support Emgage and seek clarification of the organization's legal status and its ties with Hindutva and Zionists. As the Prophet said once bitten, twice shy., those who betrayed the community should not occupy a leadership position.

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© Aslam Abdullah