FREE SAMI AL-ARIAN
Dr. Jamal Barzinji (1939-2015) - In Memoriam
There is an old Arabic maxim that describes a particular remarkable person as “a nation in a man.” Such men and women are rare in history. But this description is truly the best portrayal of Dr. Jamal Barzinji, who passed away on September 26, the second day of the Muslim feast of sacrifice, at the age of 76.
I’ve had the honor and privilege of knowing Dr. Barzinji since 1976. He left his native country, Iraq, in the late 1950s as his life was threatened by the regime because of his student activism. He subsequently received his Masters degree from England in 1962 and his PhD from the U.S. in 1974. Dr. Jamal was one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever encountered. He was an intellectual, an educator, a community builder, a brilliant strategist, a humanitarian, a loving family man, and for countless others a problem solver. His personal attributes of intellect, spirituality, compassion, patience, kindness, generosity, and decency endeared him to everyone who knew him.
As an intellectual Dr. Jamal co-founded in 1981, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an institute dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, high quality research, and serious dialogue between Muslim and Western scholars. During this period he oversaw the publications of over 600 titles including some of the best books and manuscripts ever produced in the last three decades in the fields of Islamic disciplines, social sciences, and the humanities. As an educator, he served for many years as an academic dean at the International Islamic University in Malaysia. As a senior officer in IIIT, he raised millions of dollars establishing endowed chair positions and centers in some of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. and around the world including Georgetown University, Harvard University, Hartford Seminary, George Mason University, Cambridge University, California State University, and many others. He also oversaw the sponsorship of thousands of educational scholarships for deserving and committed students regardless of race, gender, or faith. In 1983, I witnessed first hand when Dr.Barzinji and IIIT offered full university scholarships by sponsoring over one hundred and fifty Palestinian students who had scholarships from the UAE that were cut off after one year of study in the U.S. when a new minister of education in the UAE was appointed and abruptly withdrew the support without warning. These students who became successful professionals and have been serving the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora for over 30 years, would not have been able to complete their graduate degrees had it not been for the compassion, commitment, and foresight of Dr. Barzinji and his colleagues at IIIT.
As a community builder, Dr. Barzinji was involved in the establishment of every major Islamic organization in the United States in the past four decades, where he either headed the organization, served on its board, or helped in building its programs and outreach, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), the Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers (AMSE), the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), The American Muslim Council (AMC), the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS), The Fairfax Institute, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), as well as many other organizations and institutions from all over the world, big and small, Muslim and non-Muslim, who sought his counsel and support because he was a resourceful intellectual, a brilliant strategist, and an effective leader, who cared deeply about education, justice, humanity , women’s rights, and empowerment of the weak. He counted among his many friends and colleagues hundreds of scholars and clergy including Christian, Jewish, and people of other faiths who loved his company and respected him deeply.
Upon hearing the devastating news, my wife Nahla sadly but reflexively said, “Today, the American Muslim community has been orphaned.” This comment truly summarizes the void that is left by, and the impact of, the departure of Dr. Barzinji, who spent over fifty years in the West to empower his fellow Muslims and integrate them in the society at large with full recognition and respect.
But the state of the American Muslim community before and after the tragic attacks of 9/11 could best be illustrated through two powerful but contrasting events, with one of them involving Dr. Barzinji. In June 2001, leaders of the major American Muslim organizations were invited to the White House to discuss former President George Bush’s faith-based initiative. The Muslim community at the time felt empowered, as it stood united and firm against the use of secret evidence employed against Arab and Muslim immigrants by President Clinton’s justice department. Even though by the end of 2000, all victims of secret evidence were freed through the collective and sustained efforts of many individuals and organizations, the American Muslim community supported Bush during the 2000 presidential elections based on his promise to oppose and ban this unconstitutional practice. When Bush won Florida and with it the presidency, due credit was given to the American Muslim community, which demanded that the political establishment fulfill its promises as this meeting at the White House was taking place in recognition of the community just few months before 9/11. However, the meeting was disrupted when a high level Zionist in the National Security Council at the White House asked the Secret Service to eject my son (because of his last name) who was 21 year-old at the time and who was also interning with Congressman David Bonior (the Minority Whip in the House at the time.) Within seconds the leaders of the American Muslim community immediately ended the meeting in protest and were united in their stand against this exclusionary politics utilized by some government officials in their attempts to divide American Muslims. They held an impromptu news conference in front of the White House and demanded an official apology. Within hours, the White House press secretary apologized in public, the Secret Service apologized to my son and offered him a guided tour of the West Wing, and President Bush personally sent a written apology to the family.
Contrast this event with another one in the fall of 2010 under supposedly a friendlier White House, where a delegation of American Muslim leaders was invited. This time another individual was also excluded from the meeting and not allowed to enter the White House, though sadly the other members of the delegation shamefully proceeded as if nothing had happened. The person who was excluded this time was none other than Dr. Barzinji, who could be fittingly called the father of the American Muslim community. So when the American Muslim leaders stood with a 21 year-old intern, the community was respected and admired, but when they abandoned a 71 year-old intellectual and leader, the community is disregarded or worse insulted with impunity. After 9/11 Dr. Jamal and IIIT were targeted by anti-Muslim and racist government prosecutors for many years in order to silence them, marginalize their accomplishments, and break up their institute. But they kept fighting, building institutions and alliances, and expanding their efforts until the government finally abandoned its futile pursuit, even though at a great cost to their families, friends, finances, and work.
Leaders like Dr. Barzinji and Dr. Agha Saeed (who led the efforts to unite and empower the community for many years) represent the best examples of Muslim leaders in the West who built institutions across cultures, races, and ethnicities, that were based on shared principles and common interests without compromising core values or sacred causes such as Palestine. The American Muslim community, but especially, its youth, who have since 9/11 been suffering enormously from societal alienation, government overreach, Xenophobic attacks, andIslamophobia, must follow in the footsteps of Dr. Barzinji, and learn about his life and sacrifices. They must look up to his example for inspiration and hope. When they do that they would learn that they need to seek knowledge to free their minds; that they must fight ignorance and Islamophobia with education and outreach; that they must stand up for their rights and speak out against injustice to be respected and empowered; that they must unite and stand for high principles and moral values against false promises and easy access to power. To honor the legacy and life of Dr. Barzinji is to live by his values and example.
We offer our deep condolences and sympathies to Dr. Jamal’s family, his kind wife Souzan, and his children Suhaib, Fadwa, Iman, Firas,Zaid, and his many grandchildren, his brother Fakhri and the rest of the Barzinji family, his IIIT colleagues, and countless friends across the globe. May God’s mercy, grace, and blessings be on his soul. He was truly loved and will be terribly missed.
A STATEMENT BY DR. SAMI A. AL-ARIAN
February 4, 2015
To my dear friends and supporters,
After 40 years, my time in the U.S. has come to an end. Like many immigrants of my generation, I came to the U.S. in 1975 to seek a higher education and greater opportunities. But I also wanted to live in a free society where freedom of speech, association and religion are not only tolerated but guaranteed and protected under the law. That’s why I decided to stay and raise my family here, after earning my doctorate in 1986. Simply put, to me, freedom of speech and thought represented the cornerstone of a dignified life.
Today, freedom of expression has become a defining feature in the struggle to realize our humanity and liberty. The forces of intolerance, hegemony, and exclusionary politics tend to favor the stifling of free speech and the suppression of dissent. But nothing is more dangerous than when such suppression is perpetrated and sanctioned by government. As one early American once observed, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” Because government has enormous power and authority over its people, such control must be checked, and people, especially those advocating unpopular opinions, must have absolute protections from governmental overreach and abuse of power. A case in point of course is the issue of Palestinian self-determination. In the United States, as well as in many other western countries, those who support the Palestinian struggle for justice, and criticize Israel’s occupation and brutal policies, have often experienced an assault on their freedom of speech in academia, media, politics and society at large. After the tragic events of September 11th, such actions by the government intensified, in the name of security. Far too many people have been targeted and punished because of their unpopular opinions or beliefs.
During their opening statement in my trial in June 2005, my lawyers showed the jury two poster-sized photographs of items that government agents took during searches of my home many years earlier. In one photo, there were several stacks of books taken from my home library. The other photo showed a small gun I owned at the time. The attorney looked the jury in the eyes and said: “This is what this case is about. When the government raided my client’s house, this is what they seized,” he said, pointing to the books, “and this is what they left,” he added, pointing to the gun in the other picture. “This case is not about terrorism but about my client’s right to freedom of speech,” he continued. Indeed, much of the evidence the government presented to the jury during the six-month trial were speeches I delivered, lectures I presented, articles I wrote, magazines I edited, books I owned, conferences I convened, rallies I attended, interviews I gave, news I heard, and websites I never even accessed. But the most disturbing part of the trial was not that the government offered my speeches, opinions, books, writings, and dreams into evidence, but that an intimidated judicial system allowed them to be admitted into evidence. That’s why we applauded the jury’s verdict. Our jurors represented the best society had to offer. Despite all of the fear-mongering and scare tactics used by the authorities, the jury acted as free people, people of conscience, able to see through Big Brother’s tactics. One hard lesson that must be learned from the trial is that political cases should have no place in a free and democratic society.
But despite the long and arduous ordeal and hardships suffered by my family, I leave with no bitterness or resentment in my heart whatsoever. In fact, I’m very grateful for the opportunities and experiences afforded to me and my family in this country, and for the friendships we’ve cultivated over the decades. These are lifelong connections that could never be affected by distance.
I would like to thank God for all the blessings in my life. My faith sustained me during my many months in solitary confinement and gave me comfort that justice would ultimately prevail.
Our deep thanks go to the friends and supporters across the U.S., from university professors to grassroots activists, individuals and organizations, who have stood alongside us in the struggle for justice.
My trial attorneys, Linda Moreno and the late Bill Moffitt, were the best advocates anyone could ask for, both inside and outside of the courtroom. Their spirit, intelligence, passion and principle were inspirational to so many.
I am also grateful to Jonathan Turley and his legal team, whose tireless efforts saw the case to its conclusion. Jonathan’s commitment to justice and brilliant legal representation resulted in the government finally dropping the case.
Our gratitude also goes to my immigration lawyers, Ira Kurzban and John Pratt, for the tremendous work they did in smoothing the way for this next phase of our lives.
Thanks also to my children for their patience, perseverance and support during the challenges of the last decade. I am so proud of them.
Finally, my wife Nahla has been a pillar of love, strength and resilience. She kept our family together during the most difficult times. There are no words to convey the extent of my gratitude.
We look forward to the journey ahead and take with us the countless happy memories we formed during our life in the United States.
FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES ALL CHARGES AGAINST DR. SAMI AL-ARIANFrom the blog of Attorney Jonathan Turley
June 27, 2014
It is with a great sense of relief and thankfulness that I can now report that all charges have been dropped against my client Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Minutes ago, United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga signed the order dismissing the indictment against Dr. Al-Arian. The case was before Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, but it was Judge Trenga who signed the order on Friday afternoon.
I have represented Dr. Al-Arian for roughly eight years as we fought for his deportation and the dismissal of these charges. We have litigated the case from the 11th Circuit to the 4th Circuit to the Supreme Court and back again. It has been a long and difficult road for the Al-Arian family.
STATEMENT FROM AL-ARIAN FAMILY
June 27, 2014
We are glad that the government has finally decided to drop the charges against Sami Al-Arian. It has been a long and difficult 11 years for our family in what has ultimately been shown to be a political case. We are relieved that this ordeal finally appears to be at an end. We hope that today’s events bring to a conclusion the government’s pursuit of Dr. Al-Arian and that he can finally be able to resume his life with his family in freedom.
We are so grateful to our brilliant attorney, Jonathan Turley and his legal team for their tireless efforts and advocacy on our behalf. Thank you to all of our supporters around the country and across the globe, who have stood behind us throughout the years.
Eleventh Commemoration of the Political Persecution of Professor Sami Al-Arian
Dr. Al-Arian still Awaiting Dismissal of Unjust Case
Washington, DC - February 20, 2014
On this day elevenen years ago Dr. Sami Al-Arian was snatched from his family and community by the U.S. authorities in a pre-dawn raid that the professor described in a poem. Thus, today marks the beginning of continuation of more than a decade of the incessant persecution of a voice of conscience for freedom in Palestine, and equal justice for all in America.
Silencing Palestinian Americans
By: Victoria Brittain
June 10, 2013
Just as the Bush administration found the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and ignored them, so the principle of "innocent until proven guilty," a part of Western civilization since Roman times, has all but disappeared for Muslims who face accusations of "material support" for terrorism. Such cases have, at times, involved high-profile men and once received significant media attention. Civil rights activist and University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, accused of being a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (a State Department-designated terrorist organization), was, for instance, treated like a man already being punished for his crime even before his trial. Previously, he had been a respected American-Muslim political leader with contacts in the White House and in Congress. Now, walking to pre-trial meetings with his lawyers, his arms were shackled behind him, so that, humiliatingly, he had to carry his legal papers on his back. Read More>>>
The Al-Arian Verdict's Seventh Anniversary
December 6 should Be Celebrated as "First Amendment Day"
Washington - Dec. 6, 2012
December 6, 2005 shall be remembered as a great day in which justice triumphed over intolerance and the First Amendment reigned supreme. On that day, a jury of twelve ordinary citizens refused to return a single guilty verdict against Dr. Sami Al-Arian and three other Palestinian men accused of terrorism in one of the most high profile cases to emerge out of the highly charged atmosphere after 9/11. Read More >>>
When Your Father Is Accused of Terrorism by Laila Al-Arian
The Nation. June 13, 2012
For a while, the phone stopped ringing. Not completely—reporters called, but many old friends did not. That’s how my mother remembers the days following my father’s arrest on terrorism charges in February 2003. At dawn, a team of FBI agents and police, clad in black uniforms, descended on my family’s three-bedroom apartment in Tampa, Florida. They arrested my father and carted away dozens of boxes filled with our personal possessions, from school report cards to laptop computers and journals.
Never Ending Prosecution and Vendetta: The Kafkaesque Story of Sami Al-Arian by William Fisher
May 29, 2012
In a nationwide press conference in 2003, George W. Bush’s attorney general, the born-again John Ashcroft, trumpeted the arrest of Dr. Sami al-Arian, who he described as “the most dangerous man in the world.”
All that was nine years ago. Nine years. And, in one form or another, Dr. al-Arian has pretty much been incarcerated ever since. Read More -->>
Personalizing civil liberties abuses: The Case of Dr. Al-Arian
By Glenn Greenwald - April 16, 2012
Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian whose ongoing persecution by the U.S. Government is one of the most repellent and unjust of any in the post-9/11 era. I can’t begin to convey all or even most of the extreme injustices that have been imposed on him. Read More -->>
Political Persecution, American Style: A film review
It is with gratitude that I mention that Line Halvorsen, a filmmaker from Norway, chose to make the outstanding documentary "USA vs. Al-Arian," (2007) chronicling a short period in the life of a family that has been suffering what is nothing less than American political persecution right in our suburbs for over a decade. On the one hand, this is the story of America seeking to keep itself secure. On the other hand, it is the story of the impact these sometimes questionable efforts have on a family.
Call for Justice for Dr. Al-Arian in Tahrir Square
May 13, 2011
USA vs Al-Arian Now Available on the Web FreeThe illuminating award-winning documentary chronicles the story of Dr. Al-Arian and his family during and after his Florida trial. Now it is available on the world wide web free. Click: USA vs Al-Arian
New on YouTube
John Sugg: Emerson, The Tampa Tribune and the Al-Arian Case
November 2, 2010
Why won’t the Tampa Trib tell you what people in Nashville know about Steve Emerson?Steven Emerson, a self-styled terrorism expert, in tandem with his vassal reporter at the Tampa Trib, Michael Fechter, waged a decade-long jihad against a professor at the University of South Florida, Sami Al-Arian. Emerson and Fechter were backed by a shadowy network of former federal agents and foreign spooks, notably a disinformation specialist for Israel’s ultra-right Likud party named Yigal Carmon and a controversial ex-FBI official named Oliver "Buck" Revell – and a lot of money whose origins have never been revealed. Read More>>>
The Ultimate Test of Democracy: The Right to Dissent
Global Forum on Freedom of Expression, Oslo, Norway, June 5, 2009
"USA vs Al-Arian" DVD - Special 2009 Edition OUT NOW!
Order your copy here http://www.amazon.com/
BONUS MATERIAL: Commentary by director Line Halvorsen, Leena Al-Arian, Abdullah Al-Arian and producer Jan Dalchow - USA vs Al-Arian, short version (52 min) - Featurette: What happened after the sentencing (2006-2009) - Interview: Sami Al-Arian, Orient Road Jail, Feb 2006 - Short: Look For Me – The Children of Gaza (dir. Tone Andersen) - Interview with Laila Al-Arian, Democracy Now! September 2008.
More info http://www.usavsalarian.
The Contrast between AIPAC Spy Case and Dr. Al-Arian's
By JAMES G. ABOUREZK------May 4, 2009
Dr. Al-Arian mourns his friend and former attorney William B. Moffitt
Northern Virginia- April 24, 2009
For over three years during my difficult ordeal with the US government between 2003 and 2006, I was placed in solitary confinement, having no contact visits with anyone except my attorneys, Bill Moffitt and Linda Moreno.
At the end of my first meeting with Bill in the spring of 2003, after my arrest, he hugged me and said: “this is how we greet each other, brother.” He was indeed not only my attorney, but also my trusted friend and brother.
Bill Moffitt passed away this afternoon after suffering a massive stroke. He was indeed one of the best legal minds and defense attorneys this country had ever produced. His sharp intellect and passion for justice were unmatched.
- New on YouTube:USA vs Al-Arian Slideshow & Singing for Liberty
- Judge says integrity of Justice Department at issue in Al-Arian case
- Obstruction of Justice
- Press Conference for Justice Held in Nation’s Capital/Complaint Filed Against Prosecutor
- Motion to Dismiss Filed
- A Legal Odyssey: Illustration of ethical breaches, disdain for due process and anti-Muslim bias
- More Prosecutorial Misconduct in the Al-Arian Case
- Remarks by Dr. Al-Arian Regarding the 60th Anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Judge Allows Defense to File Motion to Dismiss
- Judge Agrees with Defense: 2006 Plea Negotiations Should be Revisited
- Federal judge says Sami Al-Arian plea deal does matter
- Prosecutors defy judge's order in Al-Arian case
- AP Report: Judge suspects feds duped defense in Al-Arian case
- Govt Admits: Fla. and Va. Prosecutors Were Split / Trial Postponed
- Dr. Al-Arian was Physically and Verbally Abused
- Al-Arian to face criminal contempt trial
- Contempt Charges Will Stand
- Introducing Gordon Kromberg, a Federal Prosecutor on the Hot Seat
- Relentless Terrorism Prosecutor Faces Accusations of His Own
- A Prosecutor Is Called 'Relentless'
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