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****  Media Advisory  ****

 - For Immediate Release & Distribution  -


U.S. POSTAL SERVICE INVESTIGATES POSSIBLE SABOTAGE
AGAINST LOCAL MUSLIM CHARITY


August 17, 2006

(Chicago, IL 8/17/2006) - The Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced today that the U.S. Postal Service is currently conducting an investigation into concerns of possible foul play expressed by a Chicago-area Muslim Charity. The Zakat Foundation reported its concerns to CAIR-Chicago earlier today.

The charity, based in Evergreen, IL, sent out approximately 70,000 first class mailings soliciting donations for the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon with the words "URGENT Appeal for Lebanon" in bold red text on the front of the envelope. Shortly thereafter, approximately 10,500 of those mailings were returned, in the same sequence they were sent out, with a notice stating, "NOT DELIVERABLE AS ADDRESSED."

When the Zakat Foundation took the mailings back to the postal office to have an employee look up the addresses, the addresses were verifiable in the computer system. The employee expressed concerns that an act of bigotry may be to blame for this unusual occurrence.

The Zakat Foundation reportedly lost about $4,000 in raw materials and postage from the returned mailings, and an estimated $105,000 in projected donations that would have resulted from the mailings.

"Our community is watching with keen interest as this investigation unravels," said Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago. "It is important to withhold judgement until after all the facts have been uncovered."

Rehab added that the Muslim community is particularly concerned given the recent track record of lash outs against Muslim charities, coupled with the recent surge in hate crimes against Muslims, in North America.

U.S. Postal Service employees are prohibited from tampering with mail. Additionally, all federal employees are prohibited from discriminating against individuals and entities on the basis of religion.

Available for interviewing in Chicago:

Duston Barto, The Zakat Foundation, Media Relations Manager; 708 499 6151 or 828 234 9446; dbarto@thezakat.org

Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago, Executive Director; 312 212 1520 or 847 971 3963; director@cairchicago.org

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