Have Islamic aid agencies a privileged relationship in majority Muslim areas?
The case of post-tsunami reconstruction in Aceh
in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times
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This chapter considers the question of "cultural proximity", i.e. the proposition that a Faith Based Organization can have a privileged access to beneficiaries who share the same religious culture. It was based on a visit in 2007 to Aceh province in Indonesia, to observe the contribution of Islamic charities to reconstruction after the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Special attention was given to the rebuilding of houses and schools, in which several other international NGOs experienced serious local difficulties. The conclusion was that a common religion can be an advantage, but not so much as to outweigh the importance of technical proficiency, especially in the heated political climate that prevailed during this period. As well as describing the mainly successful work of Islamic Relief Worldwide, Muslim Aid, and the Turkish Red Crescent, the chapter also notes that official international evaluations of the huge aid flows after the tsunami gave little credit to local organizations, notably the Muhammadiyah.

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