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Sentencing For Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Changed Again!

06 August 2010

By El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan


Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):


The sentencing date for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui - the brutally oppressed Muslim political prisoner being held in maximum security confinement in New York City – has been changed again...this time to September 23, 2010. (Aafia has had four sentencing dates since her unjust conviction earlier this year.)


One can only wonder why the sentencing of this political prisoner is being strung out in this manner. Has the court received a request from another government agency to bide time for some political end? Or is it being done in an attempt to confuse and diminish public support for this oppressed Muslim woman?


Whatever the motive, it leaves Aafia in the custody of jailors (in New York City) who have systematically engaged in such gross violations of her human rights, and to such a degree, that it has added significantly to the psychic damage already suffered from five years of secret and torturous imprisonment overseas!


Again, as in the past, we raise the question: WHAT ARE MUSLIMS IN AMERICA (and other peoples of good will) GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?!


We are not calling for violent insurrections in the street. We are simply calling for committed Muslims in America (and other concerned citizens) to collectively raise their voices in strong and consistent public protest. As my friend Khurram (a practicing attorney) noted towards the end of a panel discussion at the ICNA-MAS Convention in May of this year, “If the Muslim community doesn’t respond to the plight of Aafia Siddiqui, Muslim men (similarly situated) don’t stand a chance of getting the support they need.”


How right he is! And speaking of ICNA-MAS (and the host of other alphabet soup organizations we have in America), it is shameful, absolutely SHAMEFUL, that there has been such silence surrounding this case from some of the most prominent individuals and organizations in the Muslim-American community!


I will avoid citing the names of individuals, to avoid the distraction of being accused of becoming too personal, but I will cite the names of some of the organizations (in alphabetical order):


Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA)

Muslim American Society (MAS) & MAS Freedom Foundation

Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)


And the ever growing number of smaller and mid-sized organizations that are springing up throughout America…what are we collectively doing? Nothing!


One of the most disappointing for me has been ICNA. The Islamic Circle of North America – a Pakistani American led organization - is headquarted (and has a strong numerical presence) in New York City. Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani national being held in New York City; and yet, the organization that should have taken a muscular lead in advocating for her release has done NOTHING!


The American-born Muslim youth connected with the ICNA organization have done NOTHING! The active (and otherwise progressive) Muslim women who are connected to the ICNA organization have done NOTHING! Why? For fear of offending the U.S. government – the Pakistani government – or both? Speaking personally, I will never be able to watch another one of ICNA’s professionally made promotional videos (touting its humanitarian relief efforts in different parts of the world) the same way again! Not after this shameful and painfully public capitulation to political expediency.


And I feel similarly about the Council on American-Islamic Relations. With its considerable size and resources, and the very prominent face it enjoys within America’s socio-political construct, CAIR’s penchant for embracing the easily winnable (light-weight, “civil rights” –oriented) cases, while avoiding like the plague the truly difficult cases that carry long-term implications for Muslims (here and abroad), has caused me to lose a lot of respect for this organization and its front-line decision makers.


I also feel a special disappointment in MANA – an indigenous led organization of enormous potential. Given our historical and sociological experience, African-Americans (at least those of us still connected to our historical memory) should feel a special empathy for any human being suffering under the yoke of oppression.


And to my Muslim brethren in NYC who demonstrated a penchant in the past for speaking truth to power in a number of high profile, non-Muslim led cases, I have the following question: Do you need the Rev. Al Sharpton to bless an advocacy effort for your sister-in-Islam, Aafia Siddiqui?

(Of course I’m being facetious here, but you get my point!)


We must end these self-defeating contradictions!



El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan is the Director of THE PEACE THRU JUSTICE FOUNDATION 11006 Veirs Mill Rd, STE L-15, PMB 298 Silver Spring, MD. 20902




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