Decry persecution of Muslim professor
Published Apr 18, 2008 7:48 PM
A national press conference to demand the immediate release of Dr. Sami
Al-Arian was held at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial,
Educational and Cultural Center in Harlem on April 15. Al-Arian was in the 44th
day of a hunger strike to demand that the government abide by the terms of his
release. He has been imprisoned for more than five years.
Speakers at news conference for
Dr. Sami Al-Arian, jailed Palestinian
on hunger strike.
WW photo: Sue Harris
Al-Arian, a tenured professor at the University of South Florida, was arrested
in 2003. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft trumpeted it as the “arrest
of the most dangerous financier of Islamic Jihad in the Western world.”
This case of a Palestinian who raised funds for orphans and charities back home
is viewed as one of the most extreme examples of racist and anti-Muslim
persecution. The Justice Department has spent $50 million prosecuting the case.
After a six-month trial, a jury found no evidence that any crime had been
Despite the verdict and in violation of the terms of release and deportation
set by the Justice Department, the authorities have continued to refuse to
release Al-Arian. Instead, they have demanded that he give testimony against
others. This he has courageously refused to do. They are vindictively
threatening to keep him in prison for years in a flagrant abuse of the grand
Now Al-Arian is being held in isolation and transferred from one holding
facility to another in a seriously weakened state, without any medical
monitoring. His daughter reported that even his family does not know where he
is currently being held.
Speakers at the press conference for Al-Arian represented prominent Muslim and
civil rights organizations. They included Laila Al-Arian, his daughter; Malaak
Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz; Ramsey Clark and Sara
Flounders of the International Action Center; Imam Siraj Wahajimam Talib
Abdur-Rashid and Aliya Latif of the Council on American-Islamic Relations;
Heidi Boghosian of the National Lawyers Guild; Ghazi Khan Khan of the American
Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights; Mahdi Brey of the Muslim American Society
Freedom Foundation; and Muhammad Salim Akhtar of the American Muslim
Supporters are urged to call, write and/or sign the on-line petition to demand
Al-Arian’s release and that the departments of Justice and Immigration
adhere to their responsibility for the health and life of prisoners held in
their custody. The petition and more information are available at the Web
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