Evening Tribune – April 7, 2005
Dr. Chaudhry defends '96 donation to Muslim charity
By KYLE A. TOROK
NORTH HORNELL, N.Y. - According to Dr. Nasar Chaudhry, the federal government is investigating him for making donations to a Muslim charity in 1996. Chaudhry spoke for an hour Wednesday afternoon at his Seneca Road office about why federal agents descended on Hornell and its effect on him and his family.
In 1996, Chaudhry was contacted by a former medical school peer, he said, asking him to donate to his Florida-based charity to aid needy Pakistani children. Chaudhry, a Muslim and native of Pakistan, decided to make the charity his Zakah contribution. Zakah, one of the tenets of Islam, requires Muslims to give to charity annually a percentage of their total savings.
"It must be in a bad context that they investigated it," Chaudhry said. "If they misused the funds, how would I be responsible for that? How could I, as an individual contributor, know what's going on?"
Zakah requires Muslims to give to the neediest, "those lowest on the ladder," Chaudhry explained.
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division raided Chaudhry's Main Street, Hornell (NY), home and North Hornell office Tuesday. After a lengthy search, agents carted more than a dozen large filing boxes away from his home, as well as computers, Chaudhry said.
He and his wife were home the entire time. Agents were for the most part courteous, Chaudhry said; however, he feels sending 20 agents to investigate him was "overzealous," and that two or three would have been sufficient. "This was very traumatizing," he said. "For 15 people to be standing around your wife in your kitchen ... this is too much.
"If I was anybody but a Muslim, yesterday would not have happened," he said of the Tuesday search. "I would never support anybody who would do violence. If this is the Patriot Act, any good it's doing is way less than any fair this law is doing," he added.
Chaudhry said he does not regret the spirit of his charitable giving. "To the poor in Pakistan, I owe a duty," he said. "I came from there, and Pakistan has done a lot for me. Even though it's one of the poorest countries, I went to school for a pittance. Others should have those chances."
Chaudhry said he is touched by the outpouring of support from the community, colleagues and patients - both current and former….
Agents also searched the former medical office of Dr. Tariq Randhawa on Canisteo Street, Hornell. Randhawa closed that practice in January to become a St. James Mercy Hospital hospitalist…