London, Nov 18: As many as 55 unnamed charities in the UK are being secretly monitored and have been placed under watch-list over suspected links to "radicalisation and extremism".
More than a quarter of these British charity organisations are Islamic bodies and collect tens of thousands of pounds every year in charity. The Charity Commission of UK has also placed five British charities operating in Syria under its most serious form of enquiry.
At least 55 charities were labelled with the "radicalisation and extremism" issue code by the UK's Charity Commission between December 2012 and May 2014 without their knowledge, according to think-tank Claystone.
The monitoring of the charities was disclosed in a Freedom of Information Act request by the London-based think-tank specialising in Muslim issues.
The preponderance of Islamic charities in the watch-list have fuelled criticism that Muslim organisations are being unfairly singled out as the Commission has no written policy on how it applies or removes the "radicalisation and extremism" label.
The think-tank's report, 'Muslim Charities: A Suspect Sector', shows that of the 44 new publicly identified enquiries which began after January 1, 2013, 17 involved Muslim-related charities.
Adam Belaon, the report's author, criticised the absence of publicly identified examples of extremism. "Muslim charities are disproportionately investigated and monitored.
There has been no empirical evidence offered to substantiate concerns that British Muslim charities are surreptitiously operating with the purpose of supporting terrorist activities," he said.
The five British charities operating in Syria are undergoing full statutory enquiries, including al-Fatiha Global, which Alan Henning, the former British aid worker who was captured and beheaded by ISIS, was working for when he was kidnapped. Organisations that promote radical views have been warned by the Commission that they will be deemed to have broken charity law even if their activities fall short of criminal.
A Charity Commission spokesperson said, "The commission does not target Muslims, any other religion or type of charity. All our casework is prioritised and assessed for action against the risk framework." Prime Minister David Cameron has last month awarded extra powers and 8 million pounds to the Charity Commission to "confront the menace of extremism" posed by the bogus charities.