Dr. Sami Al-Arian Suspends Hunger Strike (3/23)Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
March 23, 2007
Dr. Sami Al-Arian Suspends Hunger Strike
TAMPA- At the urging of his family, Dr. Sami Al-Arian has decided to
suspend his 60-day water-only hunger strike for justice to begin a
liquid-only fast. Dr. Al-Arian's wife, Nahla, and his two youngest
children, are visiting him in a federal medical facility in Butner,
North Carolina, where Dr. Al-Arian has been held for five weeks.
"I saw Sami yesterday, and with the help of my younger children, I
pleaded with him to suspend his hunger strike, and he agreed," said
Nahla Al-Arian. "We really need his love and support, and we want to
make sure his health does not suffer more than it already has."
Said Dr. Al-Arian's attorney, Linda Moreno: "Sami Al-Arian is not in
search of death, but is seeking an opportunity for a dignified life.
He understands he needs to regain his strength to assist in the
fight to release him from federal custody as a result of the
violation of the plea agreement by the Justice Department that is
responsible for his current incarceration."
During his two-month hunger strike, Dr. Al-Arian lost 55 pounds and
his ability to walk. After visiting him last weekend, his family was
alarmed at his physical state and deteriorating health. "I was
shocked when I saw my husband," Nahla Al-Arian said at the time. "He
is rail thin."
This week was especially critical and dangerous for Dr. Al-Arian's
health. Medical experts say the average person can last about 60
days without eating, and doctors consulted about the hunger strike
cautioned that it could potentially cause permanent damage.
During the hunger strike, Dr. Al-Arian and his family received
hundreds of letter and emails from around the country and across the
world urging him to end the fast for the sake of his health.
Supporters have vowed to continue the worldwide campaign to free Dr.
Al-Arian, and to specifically ask U.S. officials to keep their
promise and release him on April 13.
"Given Dr. Sami Al-Arian's health considerations, we are deeply
relieved that he has decided to suspend his 60 day fast for justice.
However, we are deeply troubled by the abuses of the legal process
that contributed to his current predicament," said Mahdi Bray,
executive director of the MAS Freedom Foundation.
"Dr. Al-Arian was never convicted by an American jury of his peers
of any wrongdoing or crime. It is time that our government respects
the jury's verdict and release him. The sacrifice that Dr. Al-Arian
and his family have made in the cause of justice compels us at the
Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation to work more
intensely for his unconditional release, so that he can be reunited
with his family," Bray continued.
"Dr. Sami Al-Arian's heroic struggle for justice and freedom
symbolizes that higher aspect of human spirit, which William
Faulkner had observed, shall not only endure but prevail," said Agha
Saeed, chair of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and
Community leaders, supporters and people of conscience welcomed Dr.
Al-Arian's decision to end his hunger strike. "I give thanks to God
that Dr. Al Arian has suspended his fast for justice, because we
need him in this world in good health," said Pastor Warren Clark of
Tampa. "Dr. Sami Al Arian is a real asset to our world and to his
family. He is a clear articulate voice for a peace with justice
settlement in Israel-Palestine. That is why Muslims and Christians
are working side by side to call for his freedom, and will continue
to do so."
Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-
Islamic Relations (CAIR) stated: "We welcome this positive
development, and hope that the coming days will bring the justice
that is so long overdue to Dr. Al-Arian and his family. We continue
to appeal to the Department of Justice and the Attorney General to
end Dr. Al-Arian's suffering by honoring his original plea
Said Dr. John Arnaldi of the Tampa-based Friends of Human
Rights: "Mr. Attorney General, it is time to end the miscarriage of
justice that has been inflicted upon Sami Al-Arian by your policies
and return to the rule of law. Honor the plea agreement and release
Rev. Marcia Free, of the United Church of Christ in Knoxville, TN.
will visit with Dr. Al-Arian today. She said: "In this Lenten season
of my faith, when we include fasting as a spiritual discipline,
supporting our prayers for justice for all people, I am grateful to
God for my Muslim brother Dr. Sami Al-Arian's willingness to fast
for justice. I believe God will answer our prayers, restoring Sami
to his wife and children and that his sacrifice will further the
cause of justice."