Press Conference Puts “A Face to the Madness”
Published on 5/6/2010 by the The Muslim Link written by Written by Muslim Link Staff
Community News - Community News
Written by Muslim Link Staff
THURSDAY, 06 MAY 2010 09:05
A press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC on April 29, 2010 put a human face on the United States’ on-going policy of preemptive prosecution.
Organized by The Peace and Justice Foundation headed by El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan, the event gave the media access to family members of incarcerated defendants in some high-profile terrorism cases, and aired perspectives on the trial and guilty verdict of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
Saalakhan read a statement on the history of Aafia Siddiqui, her education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her social activism, her disappearance and re-appearance inside the notorious US prison at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, and her eventual indictment and conviction on charges of attempting to shoot a US soldier. Saalakhan also noted what he saw as contradictions in the US government’s evidence and testimony in the case which concluded last February. She is due to be sentenced later this summer.
“In my humble opinion, after all these years of the government linking her to Al-Qaeda, calling her a high level agent committed to terrorism, and then bringing an indictment without one single terrorism charge, for me it was a back door way of the government admitting a mistake,” said Saalakhan.
Lynne Jackson of Project SALAM (Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims) spoke on why citizens of Albany, New York are demanding the government review the cases of American Muslim tried on terrorism charges.
“The government is using guilt by association , agent provocateurs, and entrapment …. we as Americans have no right to prosecute people based on their religion,” she said in a prepared statement. “Project SALAM sent six letters to President Obama and Attorney General Holder describing in great detail the injustices being done against Muslims … we’ve received no responses,” she added.
Jackson described why she asked the city council of Albany, New York to pass a resolution asking the federal government to appoint a special prosecutor to look into abuses done by the Justice Department in cases involving Muslims and terrorism. On April 5, 2010 the council passed such a resolution.
City of Albany Council Member Dominick Calsolaro was also present and spoke about why he pushed the resolution.
“This is not the America I grew up in, where Muslims are being used by the government to rule by fear,” he said. Barbara Smith, another council member, also made remarks at the press conference. Ten council members voted for the resolution while a few members voted “present”. “We needed to send a message from the people that we don’t like what’s going on,” said council member Calsolaro. “We are hoping this will snowball with other city and local councils … this is affecting our whole community.”
Attendees of the press conference included families members of defendants in the “Albany Sting”, the “Fort Dix five”, and the “North Carolina seven” cases. Mainstream new media outlets and Muslim civil groups were notably absent.
Complete video of the press conference, including testimony from family members of defendants, is available at www.peacethrujustice.org or by emailing Ssaala@aol.com .