Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford foodbank funds frozen 'because of US law'

Mamunal Islam
Image caption Mamunal Islam described his treatment as "counter-productive"

A fundraiser had £400 in donations for a UK foodbank charity frozen after his "very common name" appeared on a restriction list for the US Treasury.

Mamunal Islam was told by US online ticketing website Eventbrite the name "M Islam" matched one restricted by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The accountant, who is from Bedford, said this was "beyond racist".

Eventbrite said it was "truly sorry" but "a person with a very common name is more likely to make the list".

The funds were released after Mr Islam, who is a British citizen, provided information confirming his country of birth.

'Arms of extremists'

Mr Islam was using the site to sell tickets for a film screening to raise money for a foodbank in Bedford.

He said: "Islam is a common name in the UK and around the world.

"It is counter-productive - discrimination like this can force young Muslim people, or anyone really, into the arms of extremists."

Eventbrite is a website that allows organisations to sell tickets to the public.

Mr Islam had used it nine times before for similar fundraising events without problems.

Eventbrite said the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had only recently added "M Islam" to its list.

'US law'

Eventbrite denied the move was connected to President Trump's executive order banning travel by people from some majority Muslim countries, which was signed three days later.

A spokesman for the company said: "As a US company, Eventbrite must comply with US law.

"In this instance, a payment to the organiser was temporarily held because of a potential OFAC name match.

"Whether that is J Smith or M Islam does not make the slightest difference."

Bedford Conservative MP Richard Fuller has asked Eventbrite to look at the way it complies with the OFAC list, because "if you try to match a Mr Islam in Bedford, or in the UK, you can't find anyone - they're not on the list".

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