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|Arabs and Muslims in US jails cry for justice|
|11/04/01 at 09:30:29|
Arabs and Muslims in US jails cry for justice
They are arrested in bulk, abused, physically and mentally, and denied rights which are taken for granted by even convicted criminals
By Ramzy Baroud
November 03, 2001, 08:55 AM
- In the midst of mounting fear, confusion, chaos and anger, individuals with stories that would once appall us are now forgotten or neglected.
In the United States, following the attack of September 11, hundreds of Arabs and Muslims were dragged to jail, with alleged connections to terrorism. Many of them, clearly innocent, were not charged, were not released and were not deported.
The Mecklenburg county jail of Charlotte, North Carolina is one of these facilities where many Arabs and Muslims await justice or deportation.
The problem is that neither demand has been met. They are jailed along side criminals in overcrowded rooms, screaming loud hoping that their voices can be heard. But a few are listening.
The United States is a “nation at war,” hasty laws are being approved in record times, racial profiling is said to be understandable considering the circumstances, and many Arab and Muslim civil liberty groups have shifted their focus from defending the rights of its community to pledging allegiances to the government’s war on Afghanistan.
And amid that upheaval, individuals are victimized and families are shattered, quietly and without much protest.
The Mecklenburg county jail is being used as a temporary INS holding facility for administrative detainees, people who are serving no crime, but awaiting their deportation on the basis of a mid nineties immigration law.
But even before the recent attacks, Arabs and Muslims were always targets for such infamous laws, where activists and intellectuals were arrested and deported based on “secret evidence.”
Matters have indeed worsened. Although Arabs and Muslims were and remain the ultimate victim of these laws, in the past, many cared to learn of the plight of these individuals and the struggle of their families. Now, they are arrested in bulk, abused, physically and mentally, and denied rights which are taken for granted by even convicted criminals.
The first victim was a 55-year-old Pakistani man who “expired” on October 23 after three weeks in an INS jail in Hudson County. It was determined that there was “absolutely no links between him and terrorist attacks,” according to a federal government official to CNN.
His crime was overstaying his visa. He died in jail from “unknown causes.”
The wife of one of those detained spoke with me over the phone. The plight of her husband, his worsening health and abuse could be read clearly through her trembling voice.
In recent days her husband and “only inmates of Middle Eastern decent were asked to take off their cloths, then they were put in a room and blasted with cold air.”
She said that every time her husband tries to convey to her the level of abuse through his allowed collect telephone call, the prison administration terminated the phone call.
Most of those held after the attacks were not connected to any terrorist groups, nor were they charged. They were simply Arabs and Muslims. While most of them once prayed to be released, they are now praying for speedy deportations.
After speaking with her husband’s deportation officer, the worried wife was told that “those of Middle Eastern decent are under special review and any terrorist attack or new development now requires approval from higher ups prior to being allowed to deport them.”
She said, “I understand that this requirement is only applied to those of Middle Eastern decent even if they have been cleared of any involvement with the terrorist attack.”
The distressed woman sought help, first by calling Attorney General John Ashcroft’s office, and told her story.
“The person who took the call did not ask me my name or even ask me to repeat the name of the jail, so I feel certain that she did not write down any details,” she said, lamenting, “when I asked her for her name so that I could know to whom I spoke if I had to call back she did not answer, but just hang up on me.”
The husband in jail recently began showing symptoms of dizziness, headaches and nausea. The wife, overwhelmed by her worries is now afraid that the symptoms might be a direct result of the blasting of cold air at the naked Middle Eastern inmates.
“It occurred to me that it could have been very possible for the guards at the county jail to have put some contaminant in the air,” she said. However, it remains unclear whether the air blasted into the room contained any type of contaminant.
As far as the wife is concerned, the ill treatment of her husband opens a wide door of fearful assumptions and untold worries.
“We need to remember President Bush’s message to the nation in which he indicated that we should not discriminate against all Arabs living in America for what a few extremists have done to our nation,” she said.
She added, “even if those of Middle Eastern decent are currently being held in the nation’s jails, they are still human beings who deserve at the very least human rights, especially since this is a nation that prizes itself on its humane treatment of people, even inmates.”
The wife’s message to “all Americans” and “every member of the human race” is to “protect human rights and stand up against this injustice until it ends.”
She urged those touched by the story to call Attorney General John Ashcroft’s office and tell him about the abuse.
“Those who are committing these acts of abuse toward Arabs need to be held accountable,” she concluded.
|Re: Arabs and Muslims in US jails cry for justice|
|11/07/01 at 05:25:58|
|And some people still think this is not a war against Islam?|
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