Browsing "albanyia"
Mar 25, 2007 - albanyia    Comments Off

Know thy rights… else perish.

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Salams,

Today in Albany there was a seminar at Albany Law School on Minority rights. Speakers were Khurrum Wahid from CAIR and David Soares, DA of Albany County.

It was interesting that the DA agreed to speak, but being a minority himself and this year being an election year? I think might have influenced him. He basically spoke about his background being the son of immigrants and why he chose law enforcement as a career. He also made some half-hearted attempts to defend the government and politics later on when other issues came up and ended with the ‘ole “us citizens need to get involved to make a change” stuff, but all in all it was nice he came to speak.

Next, they had three law students come up and do a skit on how law enforcement agents usually knock on a Muslim’s door and how they intimidate and coerce their way in and usually the poor immigrant doesn’t know any better, lets them in and offers them chai. The FBI agents then start their good cop/bad cop routine and begin asking “those” questions, i.e. Where do you work? What Mosque do you attend? How religious are you? Are you a terrorist? Do you support terrorism? What did you think of 9-11? What organizations are you affiliated with? Do you know this person? Etc etc.

Khurrum said as soon as we’ve let them in we’ve waived our fourth amendment right of search/seizure because now anything they see in plain view becomes evidence, including books, magazines, possibly anything. He cited a case in VA where they introduced into evidence a book (by a well known scholar but because of his whole the-Palestinians-have-the-right-to-defend-themselves fatwa is now considered jihadist literature). Then of course the agents start asking questions casually and when the immigrant is confused or doesn’t want to answer, they bring up the ‘Do you have something to hide?’ and the poor person keeps talking, thus waiving their 5th amendment right to remain silent. They continue to interrogate the person by asking more personal questions on their religious beliefs and the person continues answering thus also waiving their right to religious freedom.

So basically Khurrum’s point is that we are waiving away our rights and this needs to stop. He said our mantra should be “Just say No” when the FBI comes to our doors to question us. It is our right and it is cooperating with law enforcement. We don’t have anything to hide, we just want to go by the Constitution of the United States. He said we must not capitulate to bullying or threats like they will treat us harshly or investigate us more.

He explained that all of these questions and answers are entered into evidence and can be used against us. A perfect example is that he asked an audience member “Are you a member of a terrorist organization?” and of course audience member says “NO”. But does he even know what they consider to be a terrorist organization? Let’s say they come back next week and ask are you a member of XYZ let’s say Muslim Student’s Association and audience member says “Yes”, this organization can be on their list and they now can prosecute you under the code of lying to a federal officer which carries up to 5 years in prison!! Something I didn’t know that he also mentioned is that it is permissible for law enforcement to use deceit and deception in their questioning in order to elicit a certain response from you. Under threat, a person might then say anything about anyone in the community. It’s an ugly spiral.

David Soares acknowledged that law enforcement are allowed to use deception and he also defended their tactics and said that their job is to get information and they are allowed to get it in whatever manner possible.

There you have it. We have seen, with this case in Albany and other cases against Muslims across the Nation, that they are targeting Muslims and they will continue to single mindedly pursue convictions at all costs because there is a need to prove that they are winning the “War on Terror”.

So let’s get busy and try to see how we can defend ourselves.

IMPORTANT: Print this document and post it in your Mosque and put it on your fridge:

What To Do If the FBI or Department of Homeland Security Wants to Question You.

PDFs and in URDU, ARABIC, SPANISH, SOMALI, PUNJABI, and HINDI.

Mar 9, 2007 - albanyia    6 Comments

It’s finally over

Three years, and it’s over. It’s finally over. Today in the Federal Courthouse in Albany Judge McAvoy sentenced Imam Yasin Aref and Mohammed Hossain to fifteen years each.

As we drove to the courthouse early this morning in order to avoid the hordes of media and crowds, a light snow was falling from the sky. My thoughts turned to that hot August night when it all began. The night the FBI knocked on our doors and asked my father to get the keys to the Mosque and come with them. Turns out they did not need the keys, they had already broken all the doors and locks and raided the Mosque.

My brother and I sat on the porch swing at one A.M. that warm night, worried and not understanding what was going on. We later found out that three men had been arrested, then one released. The next day in the morning my father was listening to NPR news when the story broke. He hurriedly got out of bed and we all headed to the Mosque. The entire street was lined with television crews from all over the world and the front of the Mosque was literally surrounded by crowds of media. So started the endless publicity blitz of Muslims involved in a “terror sting”. I should have known then how it would inevitably end.

In these three years my ideas and thoughts have dramatically changed. I no longer believe in the America of freedom, rights and ideals that I was taught in school. When 9-11 happened the covers came off and we saw the real America. The America that doesn’t believe in equality anymore, the one that doesn’t believe in immigrants following the American dream, the one that believes in illegal wiretapping, racial profiling, secret evidence, detainment and extaordinary rendition. An America that is a living nightmare of Aldous Huxley and 1984, twenty-five years late. It’s like a person that was transformed into an ugly cruel atavistic monster that forgot it’s own humanity.

My ideals of the Muslim community have also changed. I learned that unless it happened to them or theirs, most do not care. I learned that most believe everything they watch on television. And I learned that most Muslims are in denial that this is happening to us and are blindly pursuing Dunya oblivious to what goes on around them. Many people I believed in stepped back when the community was most in need and it was the community’s most despised and looked down upon that stood up. The inner-city African-American Muslims, the dirt poor, the recent immigrants, the teachers, the “non-religious”, the white peace “hippies”. These were the ones that stood up and held fast to the ideals of Islam. There were no Mosque organizations there, no Muslim students associations, no professionals, no lawyers and no doctors. In the end, it was the poor and oppressed who helped the poor and oppressed. Others just watched.

It is a hard lesson to learn. I suppose this is why these trials and hardships are sent to us, so God can find the pure.

Today Yasin Aref made an impassioned speech at the courthouse. He talked about how so-called evidence was elaborately presented in front of the United Nations and now three years later we know it was all lies, misinformation and fear. Just like the “evidence” brought against him. He asked the court why he would come to this country, bringing his wife and children, in order to harm it. He said he didn’t come here to hurt anyone. He came in the hopes of a better life for his children. So that they could finally live in safety and freedom. He talked about how the seven million Muslims in the U.S. are being targeted. They are all guilty and now have to prove they are human beings. He talked about how his fifteen-month old daughter Dulniyah is scared of him and cries when they bring her to visit him in the jail. His own daughter does not know him because she was born after he was detained and incarcerated. He talked about his wife and children and thanked the “back row of the court” of his supporters that came every day to his trial and are the ones helping his family. He said that he did nothing wrong and that he would happily have taken the death penalty if he had. He talked more of the “sting” and things supposedly attributed to him. Finally, he said he was not a terrorist. He was a human being.

The ACLU in a press conference after the sentencing said that history would prove them innocent. But it is little solace for the two men who left the court in despair, for the wives who were inconsolable and for the children who were left with their futures shattered.

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