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Dr. Aafia Siddiqui: An Open Letter From The Peace Thru Justice Foundation

29 May 2010

By El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan

To: The Islamic Circle of North America & Muslim American Society

Re: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui 

Assalaamu Alaikum: May this find you well. 

This comes in regard to your upcoming convention scheduled for this coming weekend in Hartford, Connecticut, insha’Allah. The convention theme - Save The Family: Save Society – is of particular relevance to the purpose behind this open letter. 

Most of us are familiar with the hadith found in Al-Bukhari and Muslim (on the authority of Nu’man ibn Bashir): “You will observe that the believers are like the parts of the body in relation to each other in matters of kindness, love and affection. When one part of the body is afflicted, the entire body feels it; there is loss of sleep and a fever develops.”  

On May 6, 2010, a mobilization was held in New York City, primarily in defense of a sister whose case represents one of the most precedent-setting challenges confronting the Muslim community in recent memory; the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national who was renditioned and tortured for five years overseas before being brought to the United States for a judicial proceeding (almost two years later) that masqueraded as a constitutionally mandated criminal trial. 

On the day of the mobilization, in a city with a reported population of close to a million Muslims, non-Muslim supporters easily outnumbered the Muslims who were present at Foley Square in support of this long suffering Muslim woman. The question is why? 

Over the past year I have met Muslims who knew Aafia personally, who have yet to speak out in her defense; not because she is unworthy, but because they are afraid. This communal failure is emblematic of the challenges that we as a community have failed to confront on so many other important fronts - and as the saying goes: silence (in the face of oppression) is consent

Today our community is in desperate need of leaders who are capable of demonstrating – through their actions – the true meaning of faith-based courage and principled determination, if we are to collectively meet the challenges of our time. 

Shortly after Aafia’s oppressive arrival in the United States, she appeared in a federal courthouse in New York City for her arraignment. Despite his own awareness of being targeted by the same government which targeted Aafia Siddiqui, Br. Tarek Mehanna (a brother who now sits in pre-trial detention himself) felt it was his duty to travel from Massachusetts to New York, to be a witness to the proceedings that would unfold (and to give a sister in desperate need, brotherly support). Tarek would later write a moving piece of commentary titled: “The Aafia Siddiqui I Saw.”   

In the final paragraph of this thought-provoking missive, Tarek wrote the following: 

I will not close by mentioning the obligation of helping to free Muslim prisoners. I will not mention how al-Mu’tasim razed an entire city to the ground to rescue a single Muslim woman. I will not go back to the days of Salah ad-Din or Umar bin Abd al-Aziz, who rescued prisoners in the tens of thousands. I cannot be greedy enough to mention these things at this point because what is even sadder than what is happening to Aafia Siddiqui is how few the Muslims were who even bothered to show up to her hearing, in a city of around a half million Muslims (not counting the surrounding areas), and that not a single Muslim organization in the United States has taken up the sister’s cause or even spoken a word in her defense… 

By the grace and mercy of ALLAH (SWT), there are today a number of small, grassroots organizations that have taken up the cause of Aafia Siddiqui in America – a committed Muslim woman who has had her family life cruelly and unjustifiably shattered (in a manner that threatens the families of us all). Unfortunately, however, the “Major Muslim Organizations” – as they are euphemistically known - have remained silently on the sidelines.  

This humble appeal represents an opportunity for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) to lead the way in correcting this very unfortunate and blameworthy oversight.  You can do it this weekend by urging support for Aafia Siddiqui in one or more of the main sessions of your regional conference in Hartford, CT. If not now…when? 

Yours in the struggle for peace thru justice, 

El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan




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