Panel on post-9/11 human rights abuses affecting Muslims, black communities, and immigrant communities of color
On the 10th anniversary of the unjust targeting of two Atlanta Muslim youth—Shifa Sadequee and Haris Ahmed—Project South, Justice for Shifa, and several co-sponsoring groups held a panel discussion on April 7, 2016 at Masjid Al-Mu’minun, titled “Real Talk about the ‘War on Terror’: Islamophobia, Preemptive Prosecution, and the Attack on Dissent.” In the current political climate of bigotry and fear targeting Muslims and communities of color, said moderator Azadeh Shahshahani, Legal & Advocacy Director with Project South, this is an apt moment to discuss, stand in solidarity, and mobilize.
Shifa Sadequee’s story was a highlight of theevent. It was documented in a recent HBO film, questioning the unethical practices of FBI’s targeting of Muslims. Shifa was born in the U.S. and went to Bangladesh to be married. There he was abducted while shopping by men in civilian clothing and kept in solitary for 3.5 years pretrial under a “ruse law” in which the FBI has the authority to fabricate when there is no justification for arrest. His family is asking for his release and for the end of policies of preemptive prosecution of Muslim-Americans, says Sonali Sadequee, Shifa’s sister. Fear driving action is not what is needed, she says; we must build relations and connections with each other and understand the bigger picture.
Imam Furqan A. Muhammad, Imam at Masjid al-Muminun spoke of being black in the 60s as like having a disease. After becoming Muslim, he knows that‘jihad’ and ‘mujahuddin’ are really not the ‘curse words’ that people now fear. The public is misin-formed and education is the key, he declared.
Stephanie Guilloud, Codirector of Project South, a movement-building organization, discussed possible strategies for collective transformative community building: as public surveillance increases, the public can assert its rights as in the Hijabs and Hoodies events and marches on Washington. Rather than retreat into isolation, we can educate and build relations.
In the Q& A period it was noted that a “pro-white rally” was being planned by Klansmen and white nationalists for Stone Mountain on April 23. Final words were be careful, be informed.
Cosponsors for the event were Advancing Justice–Atlanta, Community Masjid of Atlanta-West End, Council on American-Islamic Relations–Georgia, Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Jewish Voice for Peace–Atlanta, Inner-City Muslim Action Network–Atlanta, Islamic Center of North Fulton (ICNF), Islamic Center of West Georgia, Masjid Al-Mu’minun, National Lawyers Guild–Georgia, Roswell Community Masjid, and West Cobb Islamic Center.
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