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|U.S. DETAINS, KICKS OUT TWO CANADIAN MUSLIM|
|09/13/03 at 15:20:32|
|U.S. DETAINS, KICKS OUT TWO CANADIAN MUSLIMS |
COLIN FREEZE, Globe and Mail, 9/13/03
Two moderate Islamic scholars were kicked out of the United States and sent back to Canada last night, after U.S. authorities detained them as suspected terrorists when they landed in Florida on the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Ahmad Kutty, 59, and Abdool Hamid, 37, are Canadian citizens affiliated with the Islamic Centre of Canada in Mississauga, Ont. They were flying to Orlando to lead an Islamic prayer service, but were intercepted by immigration agents during a stopover Thursday stopover in Fort Lauderdale.
In Florida, suspicion of terrorism runs especially high, partly because al-Qaeda ringleaders who carried out the hijackings that killed 3,000 people two years ago took flight training there. According to a man who met one of the detained Canadians in prison, a U.S. border agent said, "You've chosen to fly on the wrong day," Sept. 11.
Altaf Ali, head of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the account was relayed to him by Mr. Hamid when he met him in prison early yesterday. "He was very embarrassed to be in orange [prison] clothes," Mr. Ali said…
The case appears to be the latest example of the perils facing Islamic Canadians passing through the United States.
Some outraged Canadian Muslims suggest this case bears similarities to that of Berna Cruz, an Indian-Canadian who was sent back to India after Chicago agents accused her of carrying a fake passport, and Maher Arar, a Syrian-Canadian who remains locked up on suspicion of terrorism in Syria, where he was sent a year ago after passing through New York...
The imams said they were detained in the Fort Lauderdale airport at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and questioned by about 10 different U.S. agents for 16 hours, before briefly being sent to jail.
The two men were then given the option of returning to Canada or being detained for two to three months in the United States while immigration authorities checked them out. They chose to return…
REVERED MUSLIM CLERIC HELD IN U.S.
JOSEPH HALL, MICHELLE SHEPHARD AND TIM HARPER, Toronto Star, 9/13/03
One of Canada's most moderate and respected Muslim clerics was pulled off a plane Thursday and thrown in jail by U.S. immigration officials in Fort Lauderdale without any charges being laid.
Ahamad Kutty, who has preached tolerance and peace throughout North America for more than two decades, was ordered off his Orlando-bound flight from Toronto and interrogated in an airport holding cell and a local jail for 16 hours as the U.S. marked the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
He has been declared a risk to national security.
Kutty, an imam and scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto and at the city's west-end Jami Mosque, was detained with fellow Toronto cleric Abdool Hamid. The pair had travelled to Florida to attend seminars and give a series of lectures and sermons on, among other things, the dangers of fanaticism in the Islamic world.
"We have gone through a traumatic experience. Really it dehumanized us," said Kutty, who arrived at Pearson International Airport last night at 8:30 p.m. Kutty said he was pulled off the plane at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and was grilled by at least 10 officials until about 1:30 a.m. yesterday.
"They handcuffed us and took us to jail."
Kutty said immigration officials told him his Islamic Institute of Toronto organization sounded familiar in name to the Islamic Institution of America, which he assumed was some sort of suspect group.
Authorities, Kutty said, were especially interested in a business card that he carried in his wallet bearing the name Islamic Society of North America. He said immigration officials made him sign a waiver giving up his application to enter the United States.
Kutty also said he would not return to the United States and would caution others in the Canadian Muslim community against doing so…
"This is by far the most bizarre incident I have ever heard of or witnessed," said Altaf Ali, executive director of the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who visited Hamid in a Fort Lauderdale jail.
"You are allowed to fly on any day you wish in this country."
Ali said he had been denied permission to see Hamid's affidavit by the Homeland Security department.
Khurrum Wahid, a New York lawyer who spoke with Kutty, called the decision "outrageous" and said he would be willing to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government if Kutty wanted to take the case further…
In the wake of 9/11, Kutty became a beacon of reason and calm within the city's Muslim community. In an October, 2001 column, the Star's Jim Coyle quoted one of the imam's sermons at the Jami Mosque in which he cautioned his congregation against Islamic extremism:
"Let us make no mistake about it: Today, Muslims have no enemy greater than fanatics in their midst.
"Let us know that fanaticism is ignorance; it is nothing but sickness and bigotry; let us know that fanaticism is opposed to both scripture and reason."
Muslim leaders in Canada were quick to slam the detentions as racially motivated and were calling on Ottawa to denounce the incident and insist on fairer treatment for Islamic Canadians and Arabs travelling to the United States...
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