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Sunday, 2 February 2014

An Aafia Update from Texas, and the ongoing saga of Amanda Knox

11006 Veirs Mill Rd, STE L-15, PMB 298
Silver Spring, MD. 20902

(February 1, 2014)

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):
This is coming to our readers from Irving, Texas, where I just arrived from Houston.
We experienced significant difficulties in the drive toward Houston, Texas; among other challenges, Br. Hussein and I ended up being stuck in Louisiana overnight due to the highway shutdown that resulted from bad weather and road conditions. The following day the highway was reopened later than initially reported, in spite of this, however, the visit to Houston was a wonderful success (Alhamdullilah)!
The Consul-General at the Pakistani Consulate was kind enough to see us after regular business hours (due to our late arrival), and we had a frank and productive discussion that lasted for a little over an hour (some of the details of which I will share later, insha’Allah). Of even greater import, however, is what took place in Houston the following day.
A brother in the Houston area (Khalid Zaman) saw the release that I sent out (“The Aafia Mobilization comes to Texas - THREE DAYS ONLY”), gave me a call, and went into action. He contacted the president at Masjid El-Farouq (Masaoud Baaba) - a large and beautiful complex that serves approximately one thousand Muslims for jumuah – and he responded positively to the request to allow me a few minutes after the salat to update the community on Aafia and the campaign on her behalf.
A fundraising appeal was made on behalf of a masjid project in one of the neighboring cities, and thus, by the time I delivered a roughly five minute statement the majority of the brothers had already departed the musalla; due to the sheer size of the assembly, however, a good number were still present. When I got outside, our table was surrounded by brothers and sisters who wanted more information on Aafia’s plight and an opportunity to contribute! May ALLAH (SWT) bless Brothers Khalid and Masaoud for their respective responses, and bless the brothers and sisters who responded as well.
Of special note is a brother from the UK who presently resides in the US. He was deeply touched and encouraged by what he heard, and returned in the evening with his son to converse with me further. He has a friend with “Caged Prisoners,” a human rights organization in the UK, that he wants to put me in touch with – especially given our anticipated visit to the UK in the coming weeks, insha’Allah.
I am now in Irving (TX), where I expect to briefly address the brothers (and some sisters, perhaps) at the Islamic Center of Irving for salatul fajrtomorrow morning (ICI has a large fajr salat, praise be to ALLAH); and I hope to be able to address the entire community tomorrow evening. I also plan to visit the Islamic Association of Tarrant County, in Fort Worth, tomorrow afternoon. Insha’Allah, in the coming days I will let our readers know how everything went.

With that said, I want to turn our readers’ attention to another Aafia-related matter in the news right now. A young American woman (Amanda Knox) has been re-convicted by an Italian appeals court for her alleged involvement in the murder of another 21 year old foreign exchange student by the name of Meredith Kercher.
Read one of the many news reports on this most recent development in her case; and then read what we had to say about her and Casey Anthony's case, vis-a-vis Aafia Siddiqui's, more than two years ago. Our commentary touched upon the role that raceclasspolitics, andreligion play in the way "justice" is often meted out in the land of liberty and justice for all! 

Amanda Knox Guilty Verdict Reinstated By Italian Court : The ...

2 days ago ... An Italian court has reinstated the original guilty verdict against U.S. student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for the 2007 ...
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Please note the date that the article below was written and released.- MS


(August 7, 2011)

A Tale of Three Accused Women:
And justice American style

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):

This is coming to our readers from the state of Alabama. On Friday I spoke at Masjid Qasim Bilal El-Amin in Montgomery (AL); last night I spoke at the Islamic Center in Hoover (AL), part of Greater Birmingham; tonight (insha'Allah) I will have a few words at the Birmingham Islamic Society in Homewood (aka, The Homewood Masjid), also part of Metropolitan Birmingham.

Earlier this afternoon I did an interview by telephone with Press TV (an Iran-based network I believe), on a comparative analysis of the criminal cases involving three young women, two Americans and one Pakistani. The cases of Amanda KnoxCasey Anthony, and Dr. Aafia Siddiquireveal just how arbitrary and capricious "justice" can be in the U.S. legal system; and how conceptually flawed it can be in the collective mind of the American people (generally speaking).

These three cases also reveal, in very graphic detail, the role that raceclassgenderreligion and politics often play in the pursuit of  justice in the western hemisphere.

Amanda Knox was prosecuted and convicted in Italy (along with her Italian lover and an African immigrant) for the brutal murder of another young female foreign exchange student. Knox received a sentence of 26 years as a result. Now via the automatic appeals process in European law (a superior process, in my humble view, to what exists in American law) and the recent decision by an appellate judge to allow an independent review of key forensic evidence that was used to convict her - because the evidence was reportedly contaminated by being mishandled by Italian investigators - Knox has a good chance of winning release in the near future.

If I were a betting man, I would wage it all on my belief that Ms. Knox will be "legally" cleared and repatriated back to America sooner than later.[This prediction ended up being on point!]

Casey Anthony, a young woman from Florida, was charged in the death of her own child, Caylee Anthony. Despite the damning evidence against her, Anthony was recently found not guilty of the most serious charges in the murder indictment, and convicted only for giving false information to the law enforcement officers who investigated the case. Anthony has now been released to an undisclosed location, and reportedly stands to make a fortune whenever she decides to "tell her story."

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani national, and committed Muslim woman, who came to the United States at the age of 18 for university study. She excelled academically at the University of Houston, MIT, and Brandeis University. She also distinguished herself as a young leader of the Muslim Students Asociation to which she belonged, and engaged in praiseworthy charitable work in the greater Boston area. Aafia would later become a person of suspicion (post 9/11), return home to Pakistan, and eventually become the target of a rendition operation (along with her three young children - ages six, four, and six months) in March of 2003.

After five years of secret detention and torture, Aafia would mysteriously re-emerge in a weakened and disheveled state in Afghanistan; she would be shot and seriously injured while awaiting re-interrogation; and soon after be brought back to the United States, in 2008, to eventually stand trial (two years later) for allegedly "attempting to murder U.S. personnel" (FBI and soldiers) in Afghanistan in July 2008.

While Amanda Knox and Casey Anthony (young, white, non-Muslim females) became "tabloid darlings," whose trials played out in the public sphere like reality tv dramas, the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was shrouded under a cloak of near anonymity within the United States - despite the presence of a significant number of reporters in the courtroom each day of the trial.

Both Knox and Anthony misled investigators (they repeated lied) during their interrogations, while Aafia was forthright from start to finish.

Both Knox and Anthony initially tried to shift responsibility for the crime that they were accused of committing on to an innocent person, and both had strong circumstantial evidence against them. In Siddiqui's case both the material and circumstantial evidence were strongly in her favor; it was the government's star witnesses that perjured themselves on the witness stand during the trial (although they were never charged with perjury)! 

Casey Anthony received an extreme presumption of innocence from a jury that saw a young white female who was facing the death penalty, if convicted. I predict that the presumption of innocence principle will strongly kick in, post-conviction, based on the alleged contamination of evidence, in the appeals process for Amanda Knox. [And it did, just as predicted!]

And while Ms. Anthony had a fair and impartial jurist to preside over her case, Judge Belvin Perry, Aafia Siddiqui had just the opposite. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman was openly biased against Dr. Siddiqui from start to finish.

Anthony's jury was sequestered in a hotel, cutoff from the outside world; while Dr. Siddiqui's should have been! Aafia's jury left the courthouse each day and were continually exposed to the highly prejudicial, government-fed local media reports that contaminated the court of public opinion; reports that were so unfair and poisonous that they made any prospect for an impartial deliberation process almost impossible.

Anthony's attorneys were given a lot of latitude in their defense of their client; while Siddiqui's attorneys were hamstrung (and in the opinion of some observers, allowed themselves to be hamstrung) to such an extent, that the missing five years of her secret detention were made off limitsduring the trial!

While Casey Anthony is a free woman (relatively speaking); and Amanda Knox - who has benefited from a growing defense lobby, and American press coverage that has been primarily positive - may soon be a free woman; Dr. Aafia Siddiqui (who is not accused of harming anyone!) received a sentence of 86 years on September 23, 2010, and is now being confined at a notorious institution (known as FMC Carswell) on a military base in Fort Worth, Texas.

The well-known peace activist, Cindy Sheehan, made a provocative observation regarding the outcome of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui case, not long after her sentencing:
"Even if Dr. Siddiqui did shoot at the Americans, reflect on this. Say this case was being tried in Pakistan under similar circumstances for an American woman named Dr. Betty Brown who was captured and repeatedly tortured and raped by the ISI. Here in the states that woman would be a hero if she shot at her captors, not demonized and taken away from her life and her children. I believe Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a political prisoner and now the political bogey-woman for two US regimes."
I couldn't agree more...and so goes the tale of three accused women.
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan

It will be interesting to see what unfolds around this case in the weeks and month ahead. To be continued, insha'Allah.


Free All Political Prisoners!

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