Comic Relief Mafia, From Red Nose day To Selling bullets and Intoxicant

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Almost 30 years ago Comic Relief was born out of a indigent situation in Ethiopia. The famine In 1985 was the cause for comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry establish the charity trust.

A noble cause by the sound of it. Well let us say things changed since last week. BBC Panorama reveals that the  Millions of pounds donated to Comic Relief have been invested in funds with shares in tobacco, alcohol and arm firms. Well whilst there is debate whether that is ethically sound and in accordance to their mission statement, we pass our judgement based on our findings.

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“bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people, which we believe requires investing in work that addresses people’s immediate needs as well as tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice”

In this article we will look at the mission  statement and compare it to why its a contradiction in itself regardless on how much money is raised.We also will look at the intention behind helping and what motivates people to donate. Furthermore the statement that its sometimes not just enough to help just for the sake of it.

Between 2007 and 2009, some of the investments,amounting to millions of pounds, seem to contradict several of its core aims. In 2009 particular Comic relief  had £630,000 invested in shares in weapons firm BAE Systems. We must note that around this time BAE Systems was involved in a lot of controversial transaction. Comic Relief wants to bring positivity to peoples life and have a lasting change. They belief in investing in work that addresses people’s immediate needs as well as tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. However how is this possible if they invest in companies like BAE Systems.

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In September 2009, BAE Systems has been under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, into the use of political corruption to help sell arms to Chile,Saudi Arabia,Qatar, Romania,Czech Republic, South Africa and Tanzania .The Guardian   ” predicted a possible fine of more than £500m” On 5 February 2010, out of the the predicted £500m BAE Systems agreed to pay £257m criminal fines to the US and £30m to the UK. The UK had already massively benefited from £43 billion contract in tax receipts and jobs in the UK. The Al Yamamah contracts later taken up by US authorities. BAE systems under a plea bargain with the US Department of Justice, BAE Systems was convicted of felony conspiracy to defraud the United States government and sentenced in March 2010 by U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates to pay a $400 million fine. Judge John Bates said the company’s conduct involved “deception, duplicity and knowing violations of law, I think it’s fair to say, on an enormous scale”. BAE Systems did not directly admit to bribery, and is thus not internationally blacklisted from future contracts.

BAE  Systems had unethical dealings prior to the investigation Serious Fraud Office in 2009. In September 2005 The Guardian reported that banking records showed that BAE Systems paid £1 million to Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator.[159] The Guardian has also reported that “clandestine arms deals” have been under investigation in Chile and the UK since 2003 and that British Aerospace and BAE Systems made a number of payments to Pinochet advisers

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In June 2007, the BBC’s Panorama alleged BAE Systems “paid hundreds of millions of pounds to the ex-Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan” in return for his role in the Al Yamamah deals. However a judicial review of the decision by the SFO to drop the investigation was granted on 9 November 2007. On 10 April 2008 the High Court ruled that the SFO “acted unlawfully” by dropping its investigation.

Where is the logic behind their funding’s in these companies. Over £300,000 was given to a charity called Target Tuberculosis. In 2009 nearly £3m of Comic Relief money was invested in shares in tobacco companies.On the other hand Tuberculosis is believed to be responsible for over 20% cases worldwide.

Comic Relief also had more than £300,000 invested in shares in the alcohol industry despite its mission statement saying it is “working to reduce alcohol misuse and minimise alcohol related harm”.

The majority was invested in Diageo, which manufactures dozens of alcoholic drinks and was criticised by the Health Select Committee in 2009 for exploiting weaknesses in the regulation of alcohol advertising.

Islamically people are ordered to give, as charity represents one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam. In order to be a Muslim you will have to comply to this aspect of Islam.The money invested in these trust will have to be pure and ethical. The moral entities will guide how and where the money will be spend. Besides the prescribed 2.5 percent  annual taxation,  Allahسبحانه و تعالى   encourages us to give more in charity.

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There  are verses in the  Qur’an that exhort Muslims to spend in the cause of Allah سبحانه و تعالى , thus set up credit with Al Jawwad so may repay us in manifold. Allah سبحانه و تعالى mentions in a Madinan passage that expenditure on the needy is like single grain , that those who spend to show off or who want recognition from their beneficiaries are like rocks upon which , layer of earth which is easily washed away by a torrential rain, leaving the bare rock that grows nothing, while those who spending “seeking Allah’s سبحانه و تعالى pleasure” are like the highlands which, watered by rains, bring forth plenty but which even in the absence of rains get enough dew because of their  height to grow a corp. The person is not punished for not doing it. The choice is open and the person decides  whether that would be the way of pleasing Allah سبحانه و تعالى

William Harbaugh, a professor of economics, at the University of Oregon, and his colleagues conducted a study on what motivates donator. The study involved three theories. Harbaugh conducted experiments on two of the theories and the results were surprising.The first theory implies that these individuals should get some pleasure even when such a transfer of wealth is mandatory, as in taxation.The second theory, called “warm glow,” holds that people like making their own decision to give .They derive pleasure from the sense of agency, in much the same way that people highly prefer to roll their own dice while playing craps and pick their own lottery numbers. In this model, mandatory taxation is not expected to produce a “warm glow.The brain scanning results showed over the entire population that, just like receiving money, both taxation and charitable giving activated nearly overlapping regions of the pleasure circuit. The same way the Islamic Sharee’ah contains both implication within its rulings.

Linking those two experiment back to the teaching of Islam, we must admit that the divine revelation demonstrates  superiority on a miraculous level.

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