THE PEACE THRU JUSTICE FOUNDATION
11006 Veirs Mill Rd, STE L-15, PMB 298
Silver Spring, MD. 20902
MUHARRAM 1436 A.H.
(November 22, 2014)
A SPECIAL REPORT ON DR. AAFIA SIDDIQUI:
Please Read, Reflect, and Circulate
Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):
This is coming to our readers from the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas; it is especially (though not exclusively) directed to the Muslim readers of our listserve.
I arrived in Texas on the morning of Friday, November 14, with the intent of spending three days in Houston and one day in Dallas-Fort Worth. This plan abruptly changed on Wednesday, November 19, after I received an alarming message from Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui (Aafia's sister in Karachi, Pakistan). I am presently in Fort Worth, and I now expect to be in Texas for at least another full week, insha'Allah.
This trip to Texas (mirroring life itself) has been attended by some incredible highs and lows. A delegation of concerned Muslims met with a Pakistani Consulate official, Ms. Saadia Qazi, on Monday, November 17. One of the members of this delegation was a young brother who brought back some fond memories of our first mobilization for Sister Aafia outside of theCarswell Reserve Base in Fort Worth, TX - home of the prison hospital where Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is imprisoned, FMC Carswell.
That mobilization was supported by 100 plus committed souls (primarily Muslims), a large segment of whom were students of the Al Bayinnah Institute at the Islamic Center of Irving. (One of the locals later opined that, as far as he knew, it was the largest demonstration ever held outside of that base.)
The young brother, who was present at the Houston mobilization with his Mother and sisters, was also present in Fort Worth for that highly successful first mobilization about three years ago. His presence, coupled with some of the balanced and on point criticisms he made (regarding some of our "leaders" and "people of knowledge"), gave this writer reason for hope. My disappointment with both categories of Muslims in the U.S., generally speaking, is reflected in the following rhetorical question:
What good is "sacred knowledge" if it is primarily confined to the inner chambers of one's head, but extremely limited in one's practice?
This young brother's presence and perspective, and the presence of everyone else on that unseasonably cold day in Houston, was the first high that I experienced on this trip. The second high came a day later when I received an exuberant email message from Sr. Fowzia alerting me to the fact that she had received a call from the consular official that we met with (Ms. Qazi) to inform her of Qazi's intent to visit Aafia the following day to facilitate a long overdue call to her family. Fowzia was instructed to expect a call about 1:30 PM U.S. Central Time (which would be late in the night Pakistani time).
The deep low came a day or two later, when I learned that the call (that the family had been praying for) never came! Ms. Qazi reportedly traveled to FMC Carswell, but was unsuccessful in facilitating the long awaited telephone call. It was the alarming circumstance surrounding this lack of success that was most shocking, however!
Dr. Fowzia subsequently called this writer to emotionally walk me through what she was told. Ms. Qazi was initially told Aafia did not want to see her. If I understood Fowzia correctly, Qazi insisted on seeing Aafia, but when she was escorted to her cell she ended up addressing a woman who had her back turned to her the entire duration of that short visit. She never saw Aafia's face! Qazi reportedly said the woman returned her greeting, but when she attempted to communicate with her further she just recited verses from the Qur'an. No other words were spoken by this woman who was supposed to be Aafia, and she never turned around. I repeat, Ms. Saadia Qazi never saw her face!
Is the government involved in another cover-up?
The tragic story of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is mired in layers upon layers of cover-up - from the time she was targeted for a rendition operation (i.e., secret kidnapping, detention and torture) in her native Pakistan, based on nothing more than the "suspicion" of being a high ranking female functionary for al-Qaeda, to being brought back to the U.S. five years later (2008) and charged with "attempting to murder U.S. personnel" in Afghanistan.
The question arises, is Aafia now embroiled in yet another cover-up? Was the woman who never turned around to face her rare visitor really Aafia Siddiqui? And if she wasn't Aafia, where is Aafia? If it was Aafia Siddiqui, what is the extent of her injury (within a prison medical institution!) that she would engage in such abnormal behavior?! The former "ghost prisoner" at Bagram (Afghanistan) who's frequent sobbing and haunting screams - from missing her children and from what was being done to her - would sometimes keep the male prisoners awake at night. A countrywoman arrives to facilitate a telephone call that she hasn't had in MONTHS, and the person identified as Aafia turns her back and refuses to cooperate?!
What We Must Do!
This Aafia supporter (and a number of others) received the following message earlier today from a frontline Aafia supporter in Pakistan.
On Nov 22, 2014, at 4:09 AM, altaf shakoor <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear All / Salams
Dec 10 is Intl. human rights day. I appeal to you all to arrange a program for Aafia's release on that day or a day before. There are 18 days left. Pls treat this matter as most urgent, as the last call the family received from Aafia was about 8 or 9 months ago. The family is not sure whether she is alive or not. There is absolute silence from both the establishments (Pak+USA).
Pls don't wait for Dr. Fowzia's email, as this is no more [only] a family issue. Every living heart feels Aafia's pain. We should take the initiative. You all have been supporting the cause for the last few years. Now the situation is worse. More efforts are required in the current situation.
My apology in advance if i have offended someone.
Thanks and best regards,
The sender of this message, a friend of this writer (and a brother-in-Islam), is a leader of one of the strongest organizational support networks that Dr. Siddiqui (and her family) have in Pakistan - the PASBAN. When Br. Altaf wrote these words he could have been reading my mind. After reading his message, my immediate response was: I agree, dear brother. We will plan something MAJOR for the U.S., insha'Allah.
And then we have the appeal made to the ICNA organization by two other Aafia supporters in Houston (TX). Sr. Dina and Sr. Alba made the following request of the organizers of the upcoming ICNA-MAS convention scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend in Houston.
On Nov 17, 2014, at 10:25 PM, Dina Ghani <email omitted> wrote:Assalamu Alaikum,brother in Islam, on behalf of "The Peace Thru Justice Foundation" we would like to request to have a booth dedicated to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui at the ICNA convention on 28th Nov. at [the] Marriot Hotel, Houston. The Aafia movement is founded on principle, not politics.Please let us know if we are allowed to have this booth in this forthcoming ICNA convention because Dr. Aafia is a daughter, a mother, and a sister in Islam (yours and mine).How we react to the fate of this sister in Islam will be our legacy. Let us make it a legacy of dignity, inshaAllah,WSA,sis. Dina and sis. Alba.
What a powerful message, and how true! Aafia's plight is connected indeed to our "dignity" and generational "legacy" in this part of the world. How we respond (or fail to appropriately respond) to the challenges of our time will reverberate for generations to come, insha'Allah.
When I first saw this message I was hopeful that these sisters would be given the opportunity to hold down the fort for Aafia in Houston. However, they were politely informed that if the request had come in earlier it could have been accommodated, but the booths were already sold out. With the recent shock at Carswell, and my decision to remain in Texas for an additional week, I am now planning to attend the ICNA-MAS Convention myself, and I am hopeful, given this critical circumstance, that the organizers will make time for a meaningful statement to be made at the convention regarding Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
I've made a request for a meeting with the North Texas Islamic Council (NTIC), through Br. Khalil Meek, to discuss the plight of Aafia and what can be done to assist her in the DFW area. I hope to have that meeting on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of next week. I'm also reaching out to individual shura boards in the DFW area for brotherly accommodation. Insha'Allah, we will let our readers know how respective leaders in this area respond.
On Wednesday night or Thursday morning I will be heading back to Houston, insha'Allah. (I hope to begin my long drive back east no later than Monday, iA.)
I noted in my request to the NTIC:
We urgently need a community-wide mobilization [in the DFW area] that will convey concern for this committed Muslim woman, and a demand that her human rights be respected, even as a prisoner of war. Toward this end, we must also demand that she be examined by an independent team of doctors to determine the full extent of her physical and psychological injury.
On the home front, we are planning two major efforts in Washington, DC, for Wednesday, December 10th (International Human Rights Day): (1) a press conference - at a time and location to be announced; (2) a protest rally - at a time and location to be announced.
It is without question that our sister (if she is still alive) is in grave danger. FMC Carswell has a notorious history of abusing female prisoners, from reported serial rapists to an estimated 100 women who have reportedly died at FMC Carswell over a 10 year period (some reportedly under mysterious circumstances with their families unable to get official autopsy reports on cause of death).
For those Muslims who choose to see the difficulties, as opposed to the benefits, of this challenge, we strongly encourage you to reflect on the following hadith:
"None of you will believe until you love for your brother [or sister]
what you love for yourself." - Prophet Mohamed (pbuh)
In the never-ending struggle for peace thru justice,
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
Director of Operations
The Peace Thru Justice Foundation
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (personal)
Mobile: (202) 246-9608
P.S. The Muslim Link newspaper has just published a piece of commentary by this writer that responds to the question: "Why Aafia?" You can access the article via the following link:
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