February 27, 2011
Eighth Anniversary of the Political
Persecution of Professor Sami Al-Arian
Dr. Al-Arian still under House Arrest Awaiting Dismissal of Unjust Case
Washington, DC – February 20, 2011
Today marks the eighth anniversary of the arrest of Dr. Sami Al-Arian by U.S. authorities in pre-dawn raid that the professor described in a poem. Throughout the ordeal, Dr. Al-Arian spent over 5 ½ years in prison (3 1/2 years in solitary confinement), and an additional 2½ years under house arrest.
Despite a trial, acquittal, and a subsequent plea agreement, the government continues to pursue Dr. Al-Arian in an effort to punish him and once again jail him, due to his political and religious beliefs in a country that prides itself on the bill of rights that guarantees freedom of beliefs, opinions, and associations.
Many American Muslim families have suffered since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in the name of the so-called war on terror. It has claimed many innocent casualties, as the government pursued individuals, such as Dr. Al-Arian, based on their thoughts, opinions and beliefs. In other cases the government targeted individuals by manufacturing charges against them as the government planned, financed, and executed the crimes.
Whether it was thought crimes like Dr. Al-Arian’s, or manufactured charges, the government employed a tactic called "preemptive persecutions," in which the government reversed the system of justice: first choose the targets then match them with a crime to secure convictions. Although this tactic failed with Dr. Al-Arian, far too many individuals and families have fallen victims to this unconstitutional practice.
Today Americans of good conscience must show concern by questioning these underhanded tactics used by the government. They must reject the practice of targeting individuals like Dr. Al-Arian and hundreds of others, because of their religious or political beliefs.
On this day we need to renew our commitment to the constitutional promise of the bill of rights and its protections of civil rights, political freedoms, and equal justice.