Saturday, November 28, 2009

University student government calls on other universities to boycott Israel.

"University of Sussex students vote to boycott Israeli goods"

By Elham Asaad Buaras

The Muslim News

November 27, 2009

On the Web at:

Students at the University of Sussex voted to boycott Israeli goods on November 5. The decision follows the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, which calls upon the Israeli state to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine.

In a campus-wide referendum, 56% of students voted in favour of the boycott.

The referendum was held by the University of Sussex Students’ Union (USSU), which represents the institution’s 11,000 students.

Goods from Israel will no longer be stocked in USSU shops on the university campus, and USSU will be lobbying the University administration to observe the boycott.

USSU President, Tom Wills, told The Muslim News, “Israel has broken more UN resolutions than any other state. No other Western-backed democracy has committed such egregious violations of international law, but the international community has failed to hold Israel to account.

“Sussex was one of the first universities to boycott South Africa during apartheid, and we hope that this will help kickstart an international movement on a similar scale to put pressure on Israel to end its oppression of the Palestinian people.

“We call on students at other universities to table boycott motions in their own unions.”

Earlier this year, the Israeli attack on Gaza triggered resurgence in student activism when hundreds of students in 30 universities occupied theatre rooms across the country in January and February (see The Muslim News issue 238).

The student boycott comes after the Trades Union Congress (TUC) backed a boycott of Israeli settlement goods in September.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Israel arrests Black bus passengers; Israel spies on Blacks & Muslims in airports.

"Dhoruba and Naji were ordered off the bus before Israeli border officials had any idea of their country of origin or personal histories. They only knew that they were Black."

Interview on YouTube at:

"The NLG NYC Condemns the Israeli Government for the Detention of African American Political Activists"


25 November 2009

On the Web at:

The New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild condemns the actions of the Israeli government for its unlawful and racially motivated detention of two African-American political activists.

On November 23, 2009, Dhoruba Bin Wahad, a former U.S. political prisoner and leader of the Black Panther Party, and Naji Mujahid, a student-activist from Washington D.C., were on a tourist bus en route from Amman, Jordan to the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

Both had been invited to attend a conference on political detention in Jericho that was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority.

As the bus crossed the King Hussein Bridge that connects Jordan with the Israeli-occupied West Bank, it stopped for a border inspection by Israeli officers.

Of the numerous individuals on the bus, only Dhoruba and Naji were ordered to disembark. Significantly, both were the only Black people on the bus. Within a short time, the border officials searched under Dhoruba's name on the Internet. They discovered that he is Muslim, a former Black Panther leader, and someone who spent 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

(Dhoruba, a target of COINTELPRO, was arrested in 1971 and sentenced to life in prison. His conviction was overturned in 1990).

Both Dhoruba and Naji were interrogated, strip-searched, and their property confiscated and searched. Despite their cooperation and offer to return into Jordan, their detention continued for over 12 hours.

They were ultimately released but denied permission to enter occupied Palestine and returned to Jordan.

The treatment accorded Dhoruba and Naji would be outrageous if it occurred to anyone. And as Naji Mujahid himself stated shortly after returning to Amman, "the humiliation and frustration that we endured was a small taste of what we can be sure the Palestinians go through on a daily basis." But the incident is rendered even more shameful because its genesis appears to have been racial profiling.

Dhoruba and Naji were ordered off the bus before Israeli border officials had any idea of their country of origin or personal histories. They only knew that they were Black.

Moreover, the incident occurred only days after it was reported that the South African government deported an Israeli official following allegations that a member of Shin Bet, the Israeli secret police, had infiltrated the airport in Johannesburg in an effort to get information on South African citizens, particularly Black and Muslim travelers (Reuters, November 22, 2009)...


Israel spies on Black and Muslim passengers in airport:


"Israeli Shin Bet spies uncovered in South African Airports working for EL AL airlines"

On YouTube at:


Monday, November 23, 2009

Israel spies on thousands of Black and Muslim South African travelers.

Now its agents face deportation from South Africa.

"Israeli spies ‘infiltrate’ Johannesburg airport"

by Jonathan Cook
Foreign Correspondent


* Last Updated: November 22. 2009

Photo: Television footage shows an undercover reporter being interrogated by an El Al official at the airport in Johannesburg.


NAZARETH, Israel // South Africa deported an Israeli airline official last week following allegations that Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, had infiltrated Johannesburg international airport in an effort to gather information on South African citizens, particularly black and Muslim travellers.

The move by the South African government followed an investigation by local TV showing an undercover reporter being illegally interrogated by an official with El Al, Israel’s national carrier, in a public area of Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport.

The programme also featured testimony from Jonathan Garb, a former El Al guard, who claimed that the airline company had been a front for the Shin Bet in South Africa for many years.

Of the footage of the undercover reporter’s questioning, he commented: “Here is a secret service operating above the law in South Africa. We pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. We do exactly what we want. The local authorities do not know what we are doing.”

The Israeli foreign ministry is reported to have sent a team to South Africa to try to defuse the diplomatic crisis after the government in Johannesburg threatened to deport all of El Al’s security staff.

Mr Garb’s accusations have been supported by an investigation by the regulator for South Africa’s private security industries.

They have also been confirmed by human rights groups in Israel, which report that Israeli security staff are carrying out racial profiling at many airports around the world, apparently out of sight of local authorities.

Concern in South Africa about the activities of El Al staff has been growing since August, when South Africa’s leading investigative news show, Carte Blanche, went undercover to test Mr Garb’s allegations.

A hidden camera captured an El Al official in the departure hall claiming to be from “airport security” and demanding that the undercover reporter hand over his passport or ID as part of “airport regulations”. When the reporter protested that he was not flying but waiting for a friend, El Al’s security manager, identified as Golan Rice, arrived to interrogate him further. Mr Rice then warned him that he was in a restricted area and must leave.

Mr Garb commented on the show: “What we are trained is to look for the immediate threat – the Muslim guy. You can think he is a suicide bomber, he is collecting information. The crazy thing is that we are profiling people racially, ethnically and even on religious grounds … This is what we do.”

Mr Garb and two other fired workers have told the South African media that Shin Bet agents routinely detain Muslim and black passengers, a claim that has ignited controversy in a society still suffering with the legacy of decades of apartheid rule.

Suspect individuals, the former workers say, are held in an annex room, where they are interrogated, often on matters unrelated to airport security, and can be subjected to strip searches while their luggage is taken apart. Clandestine searches of their belongings and laptops are also carried out to identify useful documents and information.

All of this is done in violation of South African law, which authorises only the police, armed forces or personnel appointed by the transport minister to carry out searches.

The former staff also accuse El Al of smuggling weapons – licensed to the local Israeli embassy – into the airport for use by the secret agents.

Mr Garb went public after he was dismissed over a campaign he led for better pay and medical benefits for El Al staff.

A South African Jew, he said he was recruited 19 years ago by the Shin Bet. “We were trained at a secret camp [in Israel] where they train Israeli special forces and they train you how to use handguns, submachine guns and in unarmed combat.”

Mr Garb claimed to have profiled 40,000 people for Israel over the past 20 years, including recently Virginia Tilley, a Middle East expert who is the chief researcher at South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council. The think tank recently published a report accusing Israel of apartheid and colonialism in the Palestinian territories.

“The decision was she should be checked in the harshest way because of her connections,” Mr Garb said.

Ms Tilley confirmed that she had been detained at the airport by El Al staff and separated from her luggage. Mr Garb said that during this period an agent “photo-copied all [her] documentation and then he forwarded it on to Israel” – Mr Garb believes for use by the Shin Bet.

Israeli officials have refused to comment on the allegations. A letter produced by Mr Garb – signed by Roz Bukris, El Al’s general manager in South Africa – suggests that he was employed by the Shin Bet rather than the airline. Ms Bukris, according to the programme, refused to confirm or deny the letter’s validity.

The Israeli Embassy in South Africa declined to discuss evidence that it, rather than El Al, had licensed guns issued to the airline’s security managers. Questioned last week by Ynet, Israel’s largest news website, about the deportation of the airline official, Yossi Levy, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said he could not “comment on security matters”.

A report published in 2007 by two Israeli human rights organisations, the Nazareth-based Arab Association for Human Rights and the Centre Against Racism, found that Israeli airline staff used racial profiling at most major airports around the world, subjecting Arab and Muslim passengers to discriminatory and degrading treatment in violation both of international law and the host country’s laws.

“Our research showed that the checks conducted by El Al at foreign airports had all the hallmarks of Shin Bet interrogations,” said Mohammed Zeidan, the director of the Human Rights Association. “Usually the questions were less about the safety of the flight and more aimed at gathering information on the political activities or sympathies of the passengers.”

The human rights groups approached four international airports – in New York, Paris, Vienna and Geneva – where passengers said they had been subjected to discriminatory treatment, to ask under what authority the Israeli security services were operating. The first two airports refused to respond, while Vienna and Geneva said it was not possible to oversee El Al’s procedures.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Protests against government assassination of Imam Luqman: "End FBI Death Squads"

"Groups call for DOJ investigation of FBI raid"

By Khalil AlHajal

Saturday, 11.21.2009

Several major rights advocacy organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department on Monday calling for an investigation into potential civil rights violations commiteed during the Oct. 28 FBI raid conducted in Dearborn in which a religious leader was killed.

Photo: Demonstrators protest the Oct. 28 FBI killing of Imam Luqman Abdullah at the federal building in downtown Detroit on Nov. 5.

Imam Luqman Abdullah, leader of the Detroit-based Masjid Al-Haqq made up primarily of African Americans, was killed during a raid in a Dearborn warehouse where undercover agents lured members of the group in a sting operation involving stolen goods.

The groups who signed the letter included the Council of American-Islamic Relations—Michigan, The American Civil Liberties Union—Michigan, the National Lawyers Guild, the Congress of Arab American Organizations, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and The Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice.

The groups asked for an investigation specifically seeking clarity on nine points in which there have conflicting accounts of what happened that day, including "the number of times Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was shot, as well as how many rounds were fired at him by the federal agents;" "whether excessive use of deadly force was employed by the federal agents under the circumstances;" whether an FBI canine killed at the scene "was trained and subsequently directed by the FBI agents to attack Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah," and "whether Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah was dead at the time he was handcuffed."

Photo: CAIR Executive Director Dawud Walid speaks during a press conference in Southfield on Tuesday on a joint letter sent to the Justice Department requesting an investigation into the Oct. 28 FBI raid in which an imam was killed. PHOTOS: Pan-African News Wire


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shooting of Detroit Imam is protested:

The Michigan Citizen, 1055 Trumbull, Detroit, MI 48216 (313) 963-8282

"Muslims protest FBI’s ‘terrorism’ "

Imam Abdullah demonstration -

"Imam Abdullah’s family, followers and allies protest FBI raid"

By Diane Bukowski
The Michigan Citizen

November 15, 2009

On the Web at:

DETROIT — “The community loves us, and they are wondering who will be there to feed and clothe them now that my father is dead,” said Omar Regan, son of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, who was shot to death in an FBI raid Oct. 28. “People there trust Muslims more than they trust the police.”

Regan, with his brother Jamil Carswell by his side, spoke at a demonstration of at least 75 people outside the federal McNamara Building in Detroit, Nov. 4. A town hall meeting that drew several hundred took place the next day at the Muslim Center of Detroit on East Davison.

The Imam’s mosque is located in one of Detroit’s poorest neighborhoods, on Clairmount near Linwood. It is 98.6 percent African American, with only half of its residents over 16 working, and 31 percent living under the poverty level, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Census.

“Of my father’s 13 children, none of us have criminal records,” Regan said. “That was how my father taught us. It is not right for people to set up traps to lure innocent people. They want to shoot us down — for what? Because we want to stand up and say stop hurting us? My father was targeted — he knew they were going to kill him. It’s not just Muslims, but any organization that is fighting for freedom and justice for the people is trying to overthrow the government.”

Clayton Dafney, a lifelong friend of Imam Abdullah, said everything Abdullah said or did was about Allah and Islam.

“I once got put out of the mosque because I went astray and started drinking,” said Dafney. “But Luqman said, ‘As long as this brother is coming to the mosque to worship, he is welcome.’ Luqman was not the type of brother to come out and open fire on the U.S. government. They do not understand Islam. They murdered him because of his beliefs.”

One of the speakers at the town hall meeting was Imam Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

He earlier told The Michigan Citizen that members of Muslim and African communities across the world have expressed extreme concern about Imam Abdullah’s death.

“I’ve been on Al Jazeera three times, and on South African radio, and we have also been contacted by Muslims in Iran,” he said. “We are calling for an independent investigation ... There are many unanswered questions and irregularities involved. There is a long history in our nation, in Detroit in particular, of African American men being subjected to unnecessary and sometimes lethal force by law enforcement.”

Imam Walid questioned the use of agent ‘provocateurs’ and informants in houses of worship, particularly where there has been no evidence of criminal activity. He said the event calls to mind the activities of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program against the Black Panthers and other groups in the 1960s and 70s.

A total of 12 alleged members of Imam Abdullah’s Masjid El-Haqq Mosque remain charged with offenses including dealing in stolen goods, weapons possession and sales, and mail and insurance fraud.

Attorney Jeffrey Edison, who represents one of the men, said preliminary examinations will happen soon. “Preliminary exams in federal court are not the same as in state courts,” Edison said. “They allow hearsay, and usually only have the case agent testify regarding what is in the reports.”

Many believe Imam’s murder and arrests of members of his mosque are part of a rash of recent FBI set-ups of African American Muslims in the U.S. In May, four New York City residents were indicted by a grand jury and later arrested on charges of “conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction” against synagogues in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and to down a plane.

The FBI admitted its undercover agents supplied the men with plastic explosives and a Stinger missile — all phony — then arrested them as they allegedly sought to use the weapons.

Meanwhile, the Council of Islamic Organizations in Michigan (CIOM), headquartered in Warren, revealed recently that they met with Detroit FBI Director Andrew Arena, FBI Spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold, and U.S. Attorney Terence Berg the day after the raid.

The Imams Committee of CIOM issued a statement: “We emphasize that no criminal acts be confused with what Islam and Muslims stand for. Our religion stands for justice and we hope justice will be served. We support the law of the land. ...”

Arena is scheduled to co-chair a banquet Nov. 19 for ALPACT, a group including numerous law enforcement agencies and community organizations, many of them from the Arab-American community. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will attend.


Dublin, Ireland: Hundreds Rally against Israeli Apartheid, and for Boycott against Israel:

Click on photo of rally, to enlarge it.

Click on poster to enlarge it.

14 Nov 2009

"Dublin: Hundreds Attend Rally Against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine"

Today Saturday 14th November 2009 hundreds of Palestinians and solidarity activists rallied in Dublin to protest against Israel’s apartheid practices in Palestine.

The rally - part of an international week of global mobilisation against the walls of apartheid in Palestine from November 9th to 16th 2009, called by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign – was compèred by Freda Hughes (IPSC PRO), Caoimhe Butterly (renowned Irish human rights activist), Ger Cassidy (Viva Palestina), Sameh Habeeb (Gazan Journalist and human rights activist), John Hurson (Where Do the Children Play?), Pete St. John-Jones (International Solidarity Activist in Bil’in).

Speakers highlighted the brutality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, with particular reference to the Siege of Gaza and the Israel’s Apartheid Walls in Palestine. They spoke of their efforts, both in Ireland and in Palestine, to raise awareness among civil and political society, as well as their various efforts to help people on the ground in Palestine. Freda Hughes, the IPSC PRO, stressed the need to build a broad based social mass-movement to convey the reality of the situation in Palestine to mainstream society.

Following the speeches protestors marched around the central reservation on O’Connell Street chanting slogans in support of the Palestinian people, carrying colourful flags, placards and banners in a loud and spirited demonstration.

After the rally, an IPSC press conference was held in the Teachers’ Club. The reason for the conference was to raise awareness of the ongoing media difficulties surrounding the occupation of Palestine, to highlight the impressive role the Irish trade union movement has played in pushing for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and to launch the IPSC’s campaign aimed at building public support to convince Irish multinational CRH to divest from Israel [1].

Peter McLoone, General Secretary of IMPACT, who was a member of the ICTU delegation that visited Palestine in November 2007, spoke of his experiences in Palestine during the trip. Mr. McLoone said: “There is no doubt that the people of Palestine are suffering. There is no doubt that people are dying and there is no doubt that people are living in fear. No amount of Israeli propaganda can counteract what I have seen on the ground.”

Mr. McLoone continued: “The trade union movement in Ireland is determined to take Palestinian solidarity activism to a new level. We are determined to engage with other trade unions to encourage them to adopt a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

Sameh Habeeb, Gazan journalist and human rights worker who reported prolifically and bravely during the Israeli onslaught in Dec 2008 /Jan 2009, gave an emotive account of the current situation in Gaza. He spoke of the dire medical conditions and the fact that the economy has completely collapsed. He also talked about the difficulties faced by those in education and the cripplingly high unemployment rate in the beleaguered coastal strip which is home to 1.5 million Palestinans.

Mr. Habeeb stated: “The war on Gaza was not a retaliation against Hamas rockets, the ceasefire was breached by Israel on November 4th 2008 – a fact that has been openly admitted by Israeli military sources. This was a pre-planned war. Israel’s denials regarding its targeting of civilians is propaganda and fabrication and is abhorrent in a time of such unequal conflict.”

Harry Browne, journalist and lecturer in DIT, spoke of the mainstream media bias in favour of Israel and its official sources which he said were often accepted at face value without the application of critical analysis on behalf of reporters. He stressed that some of the best and most honest reporting from Gaza came from Gazans themselves, like Sameh Habeeb, because very few Western media outlets had a presence there when the war was launched. He referred to this as “real reporting”. He also made reference to the importance of New Media such as blogs, social networking sites and independent media outlets in delivering genuine and unfiltered news coverage on an international scale.

John Dorman, the IPSC’s Divestment Officer, officially launched the IPSC’s campaign aimed at building public support to convince Irish multinational CRH to divest from Israel (For background see Note 1).

Mr. Dorman outlined the steps the IPSC are taking in this multifaceted and long-term campaign which include research, education, legal and civil aspects. He urged those concerned with CRH’s role in Israel to get involved in the campaign by contacting the IPSC, and at the very least to sign the IPSC’s petition -

Mr. Dorman concluded: “CRH boast on their website that they adhere “to the highest standards of corporate and social responsibility” and that they state that the support the UN Declaration of Human Rights and consider human rights implications where applicable in all contracts. In light of this, we the undersigned call for CRH to immediately divest from the Mashav Group and to end its collusion with Israel’s Apartheid Regime.”

Concluding the meeting David Landy, Chair of the IPSC, encouraged people to get involved, either at home by getting involved in the IPSC and the BDS campaign, or by visiting Palestine to see the suffering of the people first hand and getting involved with grassroots and NGO campaigns there.


1. CRH’s Israeli subsidiary the Mashav Group is to acquire Hanson Israel, Israel's 2nd largest building materials company, which operates illegal quarries, asphalt, aggregate and cement factories in the Occupied West Bank.

Added to this CRH (through Mashav) owns a 25% stake in the Nesher Cement company that provides 85% of all cement in Israel. Therefore, the Irish company CRH is currently complicit in the violation of international law through illegal mining activities in Palestine, as well as the construction of Israel's Apartheid Wall in the West Bank, checkpoints and settlement-colonies.

Related Link:


Saturday, November 14, 2009

University of Michigan silences debate about Palestine.

All demands for boycott against Israel have been officially silenced, at all meetings of the Michigan Student Assembly (University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan).

Click on today's article in the "Arab American News", in the November 14-20, 2009 issue:

Here is the same "Arab American News" article, from the November 14-20, 2009 issue, as it appears online:

"UM silences debate about Palestine"

By Nick Meyer

Tuesday, 11.17.2009, 09:55pm

On the Web at:

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has long been a haven for political movements, and many times, they've been started at least partly by non-students.

But the right for non-students to speak at Michigan Student Assembly meetings has been compromised since the MSA passed a controversial resolution on Oct. 27 that will restrict "community input" at its weekly meetings, with preventing political talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict suspected by many to be a key motive.

The resolution required a two-thirds majority and passed on its second vote by a 23-7 count after amendments were added to the first failed proposal requiring a written report each time community members are turned away from speaking. The first proposal failed by a 17-16 vote.

Now, the MSA will require that speakers show a valid, non-expired "MCard" confirming that they are affiliated with the university first. Non-affiliates must request permission from the executive board before speaking and their time will be shortened from five minutes per person to three minutes and from an hour to a half hour total for the segment.

The official explanation for the ruling was that the MSA wanted to limit the amount of time spent on "community concerns," now titled "community input," so it could focus more on campus-specific issues.

But MSA Representative Kate Stenvig of the Rackham Graduate School on campus, who voted against the resolution two separate times, said she believed that silencing political discussion was the main objective behind its passing.

"Really, I think what prompted this was the debate around Gaza," said Stenvig. "I think they use it is an excuse to limit any political debates they possibly could…there's a particular fear of debate around Israel and any political issues."

Stenvig said that the topic of Gaza and a potential divestment from Israel resolution is brought up often at meetings.

Blaine Coleman is one non-student who has pushed for a resolution regarding Gaza and divestment from Israel from the MSA on and off for the last nine years, as well as from the Ann Arbor City Council, which once was presented with a list of 1,000 signatures. He's seen the community comments segment shut down temporarily in the past, most notably in October 2000 when he said about 100 students asked the MSA for a divestment from Israel resolution.

Coleman doesn't believe that time is as big of an issue as the MSA has made it out to be.

"Why do they spend all semester working hard to shut these people up when it's just a lousy five minutes?" he asked. "They call it community concerns, and now they have just effectively banned the community from community concerns."

Also raising a few eyebrows was the MSA's decision to move the meeting from its usual place on the third floor of the Michigan Union Building to the Laurie Engineering Center on the north end of UM's campus.

Stenvig has been on campus since 1999 and said that the only other time such a move occurred was when it was moved to a larger venue to accommodate a large expected turnout.

This time, however, the meeting was held in seclusion away from students and community members, where Stenvig said some voting members of the MSA were locked out before being let in.

Stenvig agreed with Coleman that the time restriction explanation wasn't enough justification for the resolution and said she believes the MSA has more influence than it has let on in the political sphere.

"Any argument that our student government can't have an effect on political issues is historically wrong and it's cynical and it's ridiculous," she said.

Stenvig said that many of the student organizations on campus have non-student members who deserve to speak and she plans to fight the resolution, having filed a case with the central student judiciary and saying that it violates the student constitution.

"What me and other people have really argued is that they're limiting free speech rights and political participation of students who want them to take action on the issue," she said.

"Student government should be playing a role to make campus more welcoming to minority students and immigrant students and this resolution was an expression of a whole series of attacks on basic democracy."



As you can see, at first the Michigan Student Assembly refused to do it.

Quickly, a second meeting was held at a locked, distant location. Even members of the Assembly were locked outside. Finally the Assembly agreed to eliminate all community speakers, except those granted advance approval by an "executive board".

This move was in total defiance of the Constitutional "Right to Free Speech", and of the Open Meetings Act.

Yet the Zionists are so frantic to kill the Boycott-Israel movement, they will openly choke off your freedom of speech to do it.

You may not believe it, but that famous campus newspaper, the "Michigan Daily", has thrown its weight behind the effort to silence even the word "Gaza" from being spoken:


Editorial, October 11, 2009--


"Some students may recall the mockery that the Michigan Student Assembly made of itself last winter when it spent several meetings debating the passage of a resolution on the conflict in Gaza. In light of the derailment of MSA that resulted from discussing these issues at length, MSA is now considering a resolution that would focus debate by changing the policies for hearing community concerns. MSA should approve the proposal..."


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Boycott of Israel at New Orleans Middle East Film Festival:

"But after the invasion (of Gaza) and Israel's refusal to let rebuilding materials in, I decided to join the international call for a cultural boycott of Israel," Broussard said. "I know I'm going to get heat from it, but ..."

See article below:


"New Orleans Middle East Film Festival cranks up today"

By Mike Scott,
The New Orleans Times-Picayune

November 12, 2009, 12:24PM

On the Web at:

Originally, the New Orleans Middle East Film Festival was to be held every two years because of the limited number of films available from countries in the region. That was the plan, anyway.

Apparently, Middle Eastern filmmakers had other ideas. With a wealth of films from or about the Middle East at his disposal, organizer Rene Broussard has turned the festival into an annual event...

...One thing from years past that attendees won't see is a strong presence from Israeli filmmakers. That's by design, Broussard said.

"The first two years we had a very strong presence from Israel. This year, all of the films that deal with Israel are from the point of view of the Palestinians," he said. "I was reluctant (to do that) in the first few years of the film festival, because I wasn't doing a Palestinian film festival, I was doing a Middle East film festival -- I was trying to get a very balanced point of view.

"But after the invasion (of Gaza) and Israel's refusal to let rebuilding materials in, I decided to join the international call for a cultural boycott of Israel," Broussard said. "I know I'm going to get heat from it, but ..."


Supermarkets targeted by Boycott-Israel campaign:

"Israel boycott steps up a gear this week"

In Al Bawaba, November 12, 2009, at:

Two of Britain's biggest supermarket chains will be targeted in a "week of boycott action" to highlight their continued sale of produce from illegal Israeli settlements, solidarity campaigners have announced.

Waitrose and Morrisons will be the main focus for action this week in protests organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and coinciding with a week of action called by the Palestinian grass roots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign.

The Palestinian-based coalition has called on supporters to launch a week of global mobilisation against "the walls of apartheid" in the West Bank and Gaza from today.

Actions in Britain will include demonstrations and pickets outside Waitrose and Morrisons and mass co-ordinated phone calls to the headquarters of both stores on Wednesday.

Sarah Colborne of PSC said: "We are specifically targeting Waitrose and Morrisons as they have so far failed to engage in serious discussion with us.

"The PSC are hoping that they will take a principled position and stop stocking goods from illegal settlements."

In a statement, Waitrose insisted that the produce it sells from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank is grown on farms where a "Palestinian and Israeli workforce have worked side by side for many years."

Refuting the supermarket's claims, Ms Colborne noted: "There is no equality.

"Palestinian workers are forced to work in the settlements because their own economy has been destroyed by the Israeli occupation," she said.

"The settlements are built on stolen land and are irrigated by water stolen from the Palestinians. Palestinian children as young as 12 work on settlement farms."

Palestinian workers in Israeli settlements earn less than 50 per cent of the minimum wage and sometimes as little as five US cents an hour, according to Israel/Palestine-based employment rights organisation Kav LaOved.

They receive no holiday pay, pensions or sick pay and require work permits which can be rescinded if they complain about conditions or ask for a pay rise.

In September, the TUC conference voted to support a campaign of boycott, sanction and disinvestment, targeting Israeli goods as well as companies which benefit from Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The resolution was a culmination of a wave of motions at individual union conferences this year in anger following Israel's war on the Gaza Strip in January, which killed 1,314 Palestinians.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

French Labor Union joins Boycott against "Israel".

"French union joins Israel boycott"

November 11, 2009

On the Web at:

Bethlehem – Ma’an – A French labor union decided to join the international movement to apply Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel, a statement from the National Work Confederation (Confédération Nationale du Travail - CNT) said Wednesday.

“The commitment of the CNT to support the Palestinian people over many years has led us naturally to join this vital campaign to end the exploitation and occupation by Israel,” the document said.

The international secretary of the union said it would also invite each of its constituent members to join the BDS campaign and participate in its activities.

“Our joining this Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign is coherent with our solidarity with Palestine, defined by our statement of support of the Palestinian people’s struggle, adopted by the CNT during its 2006 congress. This statement is the expression of the anti-colonial and internationalist principles of our union,” the statement continued.

“It confirms our opposition to all forms of colonization and occupation as well as our solidarity with the oppressed against the oppressor,” the organization also said.

“As it was done in the case of South Africa, this initiative aims at weighing through economic means and the media on the state of Israel until the unpunished oppression of the Palestinian people and the denial of their fundamental rights end,” the statement said.

CNT describes itself as “an anti-capitalist internationalist union involved in social class struggles.”

Originally launched with an appeal from 170 Palestinian civil society groups, the boycott campaign has been gaining momentum, especially since Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip last winter which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead.

In February, South African dock workers refused to offload cargo from Israeli ships in an expression of solidarity with Palestinians.



Here is the union's own statement, for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against the state of Israel.

Their statement was just released in Paris:

COMMUNIQUÉ 01/11/2009

PALESTINE : La CNT rejoint la Campagne « Boycott, Désinvestissement, Sanctions »

Par le biais de son Secrétariat international, la Confédération Nationale du Travail (CNT), syndicat anticapitaliste, internationaliste et de lutte de classes en France, rejoint la campagne « Boycott, Désinvestissement, Sanctions contre l’état d’Israël » - campagne internationale lancée par plus de 170 organisations de la société civile palestinienne, incluant nos partenaires des syndicats indépendants palestiniens. Notre confédération syndicale participera activement aux initiatives lancées en France. Le Secrétariat international de la CNT invite également les différents syndicats et fédérations de notre confédération à signer individuellement et à agir concrètement dans leurs secteurs d’activités (éducation, santé-social, culture, commerce, médias…) et dans leurs différentes régions.

L’engagement de la CNT auprès du peuple palestinien, depuis de nombreuses années, nous conduit tout naturellement à adhérer à cette indispensable campagne pour la fin de l’exploitation et de l’occupation israélienne. Un Groupe de travail Palestine existe depuis 2001 au sein de notre secrétariat international. Par son biais, nous avons noué de nombreux contacts en Palestine avec des syndicats autonomes et des organisations de base en lutte contre l’occupation.

Nous rejoignons cette campagne « Boycott, Désinvestissement, Sanctions » (BDS), suite logique de notre solidarité avec la Palestine, définit par notre motion de soutien à la lutte du peuple palestinien votée par la CNT à son congrès de 2006. Cette motion est l’expression des principes anticolonialistes et internationalistes de notre syndicalisme. Elle réaffirme notre opposition à toutes formes de colonisation et d’occupation ainsi que notre solidarité envers les opprimés contre les oppresseurs.

Comme cela avait été fait pour l’Afrique du Sud, cette initiative a pour but de peser par le biais économique et médiatique sur l’état Israélien jusqu’à ce que cesse l’oppression et la négation, en toute impunité, des droits fondamentaux du peuple palestinien.


Secrétariat international de la CNT

Contact : Groupe de travail “Palestine” de la CNT :


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Resolution Presented at Detroit City Council, to stop spending Trillions on Killing Muslims, and instead spent it to re-build Detroit:

This Resolution was proposed at Detroit City Council on Tuesday, November 10, 2009:

Click on the proposed Resolution to enlarge it.

The text of the Resolution is as follows:


Detroit City Council Resolution asking Congress to:
* Stop Spending Trillions to Kill Muslims, and to
* Start Spending that Money to Re-build Detroit.

WHEREAS, U.S. Congressman John Dingell issued a news release, on April 23, 2008, stating that Congress has given Israel over $300 billion,

WHEREAS, The Iraq war alone will cost $3 trillion, according to “Harpers” magazine, January 2009,

WHEREAS, The United States has spent trillions to kill Muslims in Iraq, Palestine,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Lebanon; and has recently killed a Detroit Imam,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the Detroit City Council asks the U.S. Congress to immediately stop spending trillions of dollars killing Muslims, to stop sending aid to Israel, and to start spending that money to re-build Detroit and every inner city in the United States.


University of Sussex Students' Union votes for a full boycott against Israeli goods.

November 02, 2009

Landmark victory for BDS at Sussex Uni

On the Web at:

BDS is on a roll now. Remember the wave of student occupations over the Israeli assault on Gaza late last year? There was the recent TUC vote for a boycott of Israel. There have been many votes in favour of BDS at various UK trade unions. Now students at Sussex University have voted for a boycott of Israeli goods.

I first heard about the vote taking place from someone I know at the university. I didn't think too much of it because there seems to be a lot of it about these days. Then the vote came out in favour of BDS and I was pleased but, as with the TUC decision, it didn't strike me as momentous. Well it turns out that, as with the TUC decision, it was unprecedented. See this:

Following a landmark referendum, students at Sussex University have voted to boycott Israeli goods. The decision will become part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which calls upon Israel to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine. The referendum result mandates the Students’ Union to remove all Israeli produce from its stores, and review its sources for food outlets. This makes Sussex Students’ Union the first in the UK to implement a full boycott of Israeli goods. The vote was one of the largest and closest contested in the Union’s history, with 562 votes for and 450 against the boycott.

The referendum received messages of support and thanks from Jewish and Israeli academics and non-governmental organisations that oppose Israel’s policy of occupation in Palestine. Author and scholar Norman G. Finkelstein described the referendum result as ‘a victory, not for Palestinians but for truth and justice’. He continued by saying, ‘Let us hope the boycott transmits the message to Israel that it should end the occupation, so that Palestinians can lead a decent life and amicable relations can be restored between Israelis and other peoples.‘

As I said, BDS is on the move now, like an idea whose time has come.


University of Sussex Student Union has voted to boycott Israel

University of Sussex students: The Palestine Society, and Stop The War.


"Sussex Student Union vote to boycott Israel"

On the Web at:

On Wednesday 28th of October [2009] the University of Sussex Student Union voted in line with the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS to boycott Israel. The movement calls upon Israel to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine.

The referendum result mandates the Students’ Union to remove all Israeli produce from its stores, and review its sources for food outlets. The vote was one of the largest and most closely-contested in the Union’s history, with 562 voting in favour of the boycott and 450 voting against it.

The debate over the boycott was often tense, with the Friends of Palestine Society leading the ‘Yes’ campaign, and the ‘No’ campaign running under the slogan ‘Build Bridges Not Boycotts’. Martha Baker, a member of Palestine Society and speaker at one of the events, said that the biggest challenge for the pro-Boycott team was not, however, the pro-Israeli campaigners.

Baker commented: “Our biggest challenge was ignorance: most students are not aware of the situation facing Palestinians living under occupation. The more we spoke to people, the more they understood the reasons for boycotting Israel.”

Yasmin Khan, Senior Campaigns Officer at UK charity War On Want added: “Palestinians have suffered under the Israeli repression for 61 years, during which time governments all over the world have allowed Israel to act with impunity. It is time for this to change. The Boycott movement could be just the thing to finally bring justice to Palestine.”

Palestine Society member Bushra Khalidi says that the society will now focus its efforts on gaining scholarships for Palestinian students, and lobbying the Union to sell Palestinian West Bank produce.

Sussex becomes the latest student UK union to vote to boycott Israel, the University of Manchester Student Union and the University of Essex Student Union both voted for a boycott in March of this year, several other student unions in the UK have taken similar steps in recent years. The Right to Education campaign sees these boycotts as a symbol of solidarity with Palestinian students and a positive step towards securing academic freedom for Palestinians by highlighting the ongoing injustice of the Israeli occupation.

The imposition of immediate boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel is one of the strongest ways to register criticism and delegitimize the actions and policies of the Israeli government towards Palestinians. In particular, Israel’s siege on Gaza and their refusal to permit Gazans the basic equipment and supplies necessary for universally-acceptable living standards highlights the Israeli government’s flagrant disregard for human rights and international law.

As such, the methods of boycott, divestment and sanctions remain vital tools of activism until Israel abides by international human rights and humanitarian laws, dismantles its apartheid regime spanning both the occupied territories and Israel proper, and commits to pursuing a long-lasting, just solution.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tearing down the Israeli apartheid wall, in occupied Palestine:

"Palestinians breach West Bank wall"

Monday, November 9, 2009


Palestinian and international activists pull down a section of the controversial Israeli barrier in the al-Amari refugee camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah today. Photograph: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

Activists made a hole in Israel's West Bank wall for the second time in less than a week today in a demonstration to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Their faces masked, the activists tethered a two-metre wide section of the cement barrier to a truck which then pulled it over.

The crowd of around 50, which had gathered at a section of the barrier near an Israeli checkpoint at Qalandiya, cheered as the six-metre high section fell.

Israeli troops fired tear gas at the crowd, some of whom threw stones over the wall. Several demonstrators passed through the hole they had made, hoisting a Palestinian flag and setting ablaze tyres on the other side.

The panels of the walls in Israel's separation barrier are cast in the same inverted T-shape as the wall constructed through Berlin by communist East Germany.

Israel began building its barrier of fences and walls at the height of the Palestinian uprising that began in 2000 and it now runs along most of the West Bank border, at many points encroaching into West Bank territory.

It says it was built to prevent suicide bombers entering Israel and has largely succeeded in doing so. Palestinians see it as an attempt to seize land on which they aim to establish an independent state.

Violent protests at its construction have become a regular Friday event in which Israeli police fire gas and rubber bullets at stone-throwing Palestinians.

"Today we commemorate 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall," said Abdullah Abu Rahma, leader of the People's Campaign to Fight the Wall. "This is the first step in a series of activities we will be holding in the coming days to express our firm attachment to our land and our rejection of this wall."

The protest mirrored a similar event last Friday in the West Bank village of Nilin, where Palestinian youths almost toppled a segment of the wall using a hydraulic car-jack.

In a non-binding decision in 2004, the International Court of Justice said the barrier was illegal and should be taken own because it crossed occupied territory. Israeli leaders have said the barrier is a temporary obstacle that could be removed once a peace agreement with the Palestinians is signed.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Protest against Israel's Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, outside the Jewish Federation's fundraiser:

Click on flyer to enlarge it.


200 people meet to demand justice for Detroit Imam, shot dead by FBI

Posted: 10:24 p.m. Nov. 6, 2009

"Muslim leader's shooting death discussed at Detroit town hall meeting"


About 200 metro Detroiters attended a town hall meeting Friday night in a Detroit mosque to urge unity and justice in the death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a Muslim leader killed last week in a shootout with FBI agents.

Speakers on a panel at the meeting expressed concerns about the use of undercover agents by the FBI in the case of Abdullah, who was head of Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit. After a two-year investigation by undercover agents, Abdullah was shot dead Oct. 28 by agents after he allegedly opened fire first, killing a police dog, according to federal officials.

"You can not become paranoid," Ron Scott, head of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, told the crowd inside the Muslim Center mosque in Detroit. "Let us not become suspicious of each other."

Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called for an end to the use of undercover agents inside mosques, comparing them to the COINTELPRO programs the FBI used against some African-Americans in the 1960s. Abdullah led a mosque that consisted primarily of African-Americans.

Walid said he's concerned that the use of informants can "get leadership to start fighting amongst themselves."

The FBI has said that while it does use undercover agents for legitimate investigations, it does not target any particular religion. Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit office, has said the FBI acted appropriately in the case of Abdullah. Abdullah and his followers are accused of commiting federal crimes, including dealing with stolen goods. His family denies these claims.

After the townhall meeting, money was raised for a legal defense fund to help the men who were arrested during raids in Detroit and Dearborn last week that targeted Abdullah and his followers.

Omar Regan, a son of Abdullah, said at the meeting that his father was wrongly killed and falsely accused of being an extremist by authorities. In a criminal complaint, agents describe Abdullah as a Muslim radical.

"You didn't like some things he said -- whoop dee doo," Regan said tonight. "It's freedom of speech. He can say what he wants to say."

BAIL GRANTED: A judge in Windsor granted bail Friday for two Canadian men whom U.S. authorities want extradited on charges linked to the FBI raid of Abdullah's group. Mohammad Al-Sahli, 33, and Yassir Ali Khan, 30, were placed under partial house arrest.



Friday, November 6, 2009

Students try "citizen's arrest" against Israeli ambassador at Nottingham University

"British students attempt 'citizen's arrest' of Israeli ambassador"

author Thursday November 05, 2009 00:17author by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News Report this post to the editors

On "International Middle East Media Center", at:

featured image

Students at Nottingham University in England issued a citizen’s arrest for the Israeli ambassador who was on campus to give a lecture.

The students held a protest and disrupted the talk by Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor.

Nottingham University was one of a number of British schools which faced student occupations of Administration buildings in January, when Israeli troops staged a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip.

The students held signs saying, “Books not Bombs” to challenge Israel’s ongoing blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The blockade prevents all imports into Gaza, including books, school supplies and medical supplies.

The one point four million people in Gaza are also subject to the blockade, prevented from leaving the Gaza Strip due to the Israeli control of all borders.

Students called the Gaza Strip the ‘largest open-air prison on earth’, due to this ongoing blockade.

They were unsuccessful in their attempted arrest of the Israeli ambassador, but British lawyers have filed a claim under the ‘universal jurisdiction’ law that would require British police to arrest Israeli officials accused of war crimes.

That claim has yet to be approved by a British judge.

category international | non-violent action | news report
author email saed at imemc dot org

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Assassination of Imam Luqman, "who spent thirty years feeding the poor and hungry."

Read the last sentence especially--

"Meanwhile, the struggle to survive continues in the inner city and somewhere a child wonders what happened to that guy who spent thirty years feeding the poor and hungry."

The article is published in today's "Huffington Post"--


"Death of a Detroit Imam Leaves Many Questions Unanswered"


November 5, 2009

On the Web at:

DETROIT -- Six days have passed since his father's untimely death, and Omar Regan's eyes betray a hint of moistness. It is a chilly Tuesday morning, and the Detroit diner at which he has agreed to meet - Superior Coney Island on Wyoming St. - is only two miles from the warehouse where Luqman Ameen Abdullah was killed by FBI agents in a hail of gunfire.

"My father was really, truly a great dude," he tells me. "Straight-forward, he would say what was on his mind...he taught us to be straight up." Mr. Regan, 34, an actor and motivational speaker, was at home in California when he started receiving frantic phone calls last Wednesday afternoon. The national media quickly caught wind of the story - "FBI raids in Detroit, dog shot, airlifted to hospital." He called his father - "when he didn't pick up, I assumed they were holding him." Then one of his sisters called. "They've killed Abu," she screamed hysterically. "And that's when it hit - it hit me hard," he says, "when you hear them crying and screaming in shock."

We have just ordered breakfast when we are joined by one of Mr. Regan's brothers - there are 13 siblings in all. "This is my brother Mujahid," he says by way of introduction. The shock on my face is palpable, and they exchange a knowing laugh. Mujahid Carswell, 30, is one of the eleven individuals charged in the criminal complaint; the initial press release from the US Attorney's Office calls him "armed and dangerous." He lives in Windsor, Ontario - across the river from Detroit - and was at home with his family when he found his house surrounded by heavily-armed agents. He voluntarily surrendered himself and a federal judge approved his release with a monitoring device on Friday. But the official responsible for fitting the device went home early, he says, so he wasn't released until Monday, and missed his father's funeral.

The waitress brings us our scrambled eggs with grits and halal bacon (made with beef instead of pork.) I confess to never having tried grits, and Mr. Carswell looks at me in mock disbelief. "You have to try some," he insists, "but not the sweetened version" as he glances disapprovingly at his brother who is pouring spoonfuls of sugar into his bowl. "Look, I don't care about what my father said. People say stuff all the time. What did he do? He fed the people every Sunday for 30 years."

Mr. Regan joins in, "The non-Muslims in the neighborhood call us and they're in tears. If someone on the street would ask him for food, he'd go in the house. I have to feed them - that was his attitude." "In the snow", interjects Mr. Carswell, "with no money to do it with. People have to be fed. The government isn't doing it, it's up to you." At the end of the day, asks Mr. Regan, "If he was such a bad guy, why did people love him so much?"

The funeral service for Mr. Abdullah, affectionately known as Imam Luqman in the community, was held this past Saturday morning at Detroit's Muslim Center, with an estimated 1500 individuals in attendance. "There were Muslims of every race, of every denomination; there were Evangelicals, Jehovah's Witnesses, atheists, men, women, and children...The funeral procession stretched for four miles," says Mr. Regan. I arrived just as the procession was departing for Knollwood Cemetery in Canton - over 25 miles away. At the burial ground, the atmosphere seemed rich with emotion, yet oddly festive at the same time, with children running around and women chatting in small groups. Ron, 31, a white cemetery employee, estimated the crowd of 1000 as the largest he had ever seen. "He must have been well-liked."

"My whole life," says Mr. Regan, "I've seen police bother him." He recalls a particular incident when the call to prayer (adhaan) was being broadcast at the mosque and the police came. "They drove the car onto the sidewalk, and the cop got up on the roof and broke the speaker. They handcuffed my father. He didn't bother nobody." Eventually, the non-Muslims petitioned to get the speaker back. "They said, 'Why ya'll stopped singing those songs in the morning?'"

The government accuses Mr. Abdullah and his followers of seeking to "establish a separate Sharia-law governed state within the United States." Mr. Regan offers a different perspective. "My father wanted a decent neighborhood, without liquor stores, drugs, gangs, and violence. He wanted children to grow up in a good environment." Mr. Carswell takes issue with the government's portrayal of his father as a danger to the community. "Have you ever been to my community?" he asks angrily. "What have you done for my community?"

I ask about the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the much-discussed 45-page document that details the government's grounds for obtaining arrest warrants for Mr. Abdullah, Mr. Carswell, and nine others. "This is character assassination," argues Mr. Regan. "They want to say Muslims are terrorists so they can look justified in doing what they're doing. All they have to do is sway public opinion. People say, 'I seen it on TV', and they believe it." "It's not just character assassination," adds Mr. Carswell. "They shot him 18 times."

I ask if the government has officially contacted his family. Mr. Regan offers a wry smile: "To express their condolences?" No, he responds, nor does he expect them to. "I couldn't have listened to them talk about my father anyways. 'You liars', I would have said."

How has the family been handling the situation? "We're taking it day-by-day," answers Mr. Regan. "We're not excited and over-emotional. We know that Allah is in control, and Allah called him home. We're hurt because we miss him. Insha Allah (God Willing), he's in paradise. He was always doing something for somebody." As the brothers get up to leave, we shake hands and I thank them for their time.

The Community

The interview has gone much better than expected - not bad for a biostatistician, I think. All I need to do is make some quick phone calls and get some statements, and I would be done. As I pull out of the parking lot, however, an alternate plan comes to mind. I quickly plug in the intersection of Joy and Dexter into my GPS, and soon I am off to the heart of Luqman Abdullah's neighborhood.

I drive the three miles and watch the neighborhoods around me go from bad to worse. Entire blocks are deserted, and homes and businesses are boarded up and rotting away. The constant din of construction in Ann Arbor seems like a blessing in comparison. Hardly anyone can be seen walking on the street by the time I arrive at Eagle's Coney Island diner. I have heard that the Imam used to get coffee here, and I am anxious to meet ordinary people who knew him.

The cold air hits my face as I get out of the car. I enter and find about a dozen men, ranging in age from late teens to senior citizens, seated in booths eating lunch. Trying not to feel self-conscious, I walk up to the thick bullet-proof glass which separates the attendants from the customers. The menu advertises a "recession special" of a "Coney egg sandwich" for only 99 cents. I glimpse a "No Loitering" sign and approach the counter. "Do you - take credit cards?" I ask falteringly, the words barely having left my mouth before I wish I could take them back. I have four dollars in my pocket, and I order coffee and a side of French fries for $2. (As any true New Yorker will tell you, street coffee beats Starbucks any day.)

I select a table in the corner, and start toying with my fries, wondering what I am doing with my life. As a biostatistics graduate student, I should have been in class learning about Cox survival models at that moment. Instead I approach a wrinkled gentleman who looks to be in his late 60s. "I'm a writer," I announce, hoping he can't see through the deceit. "The guy who got killed a few days ago, Imam Luqman, did you know him?" He smiles politely back at me. "I don't know anything about that." I walk up to the cashier, a pretty white girl only a little older than me. "Yes, he used to get his coffee here regularly," she tells me. "Good man."

Everything seems to be just around the corner - Mr. Abdullah's residence, the former location of Masjid Al-Haqq that he had been evicted from earlier in the year, and the makeshift mosque his followers had been using since. I decide to leave my car at the diner, hoping it won't get towed or broken into, and cautiously start to walk around the neighborhood. I overcome my initial hesitation and interview over a dozen people, mostly on the street, but also in some of the stores in the area. While some are hesitant to talk and deny knowing anything, most are happy to share their recollections of Imam Luqman. From no less than nine individuals, I hear a consistent story of a peaceful man who lived an otherwise unremarkable life and was known for feeding the hungry and homeless.

I catch Toby, 11, and Martin, 8, playing basketball on the street on Holmur Ave. "I remember him coming to our block and giving out bread," Toby tells me. "No one else did that." Matt, 57, is raking his neighbor's lawn on Hazelwood St. when I approach. When I mention the Imam's name, he scratches his head. "Oh, are you talking about those Muslims?" he asks suddenly, pronouncing the word 'Moozlum'. "I've lived here for twenty years. They were good people - generous people."

Nate, 61, has a stand outside the Thrifty Scot Supermarket on Joy Rd. where he sells incense and DVDs. He remembers Mr. Abdullah as a regular shopper at the store; "he was very distinctive," he tells me, in his robes and garments. "Used to feed the poor from his mosque. Never bothered nobody."

D., 34, is a barber at No Limit Cuts. After I've left, I notice the sign at the entrance -"In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." He is chatting casually with an older gentleman when I walk in. He tells me that people are angry and upset about what happened. "Only the Muslims?" I ask. "It's not just about Muslims," he insists. "It involves the whole community."

I meet Al, 77, further down Joy Road. He tells me he knew Imam Luqman well. "How do you feel about what happened?" I ask. "They fucking shot someone who fed kids, that's what they did." He becomes emotional, as he tells me that "they were afraid of him and they killed him." When I ask him about his religious affiliation, he tells me that he's Baptist.

More common than anger, however, is bewilderment. Many people ask me for the inside scoop of what happened - everyone wants to know why he was killed. Anna, 80, has lived in Detroit all her life. When I ask her about the allegations in the media, she responds, "I never heard nothing like that about them." "What I know is that they were generous, he was always helping people."

I drive two miles to the local police precinct on Livernois and Elmhurst. The desk attendant refuses to comment and asks me to call the Detroit Police Department's Public Information office. I ask to see a superior, and eventually a lieutenant agrees to speak to me off the record. I ask if there have been incidents in the past with Imam Luqman and his followers. She shakes her head. "As far as we were concerned, they were good neighbors."

I have spoken to Mr. Abdullah's family, and have tried to gauge community sentiment to the best of my abilities. I head towards I-96 for the 40-minute drive back to Ann Arbor. As the decaying remnants of Detroit fade into a blur in my windshield, I am left with more questions than answers.

The Complaint

The US Attorney's office has released a 45-page affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint before a magistrate judge. After a finding of probable cause, arrest warrants were issued last Tuesday. The next stage of the process - when the evidence is presented to a grand jury and indictments are handed down - has yet to take place.

The complaint against Mr. Abdullah and ten others formally alleges six crimes: possession of firearms and body armor by a convicted felon, providing firearms to a convicted felon, tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and conspiracy to sell or receive stolen goods. The evidence was obtained through an "undercover operation" involving at least three "confidential sources" and at least two "undercover employees of the FBI." The substance of the criminal activity alleged involves, among other things, dealings in supposedly stolen fur coats, laptops, and LCD TVs.

The bulk of the document (29 pages) consists of a background section which accuses the defendants of far more serious offenses. Based on informants' statements, these include an alleged plot to violently overthrow the government. However, since this information is only "background", no formal charges have been filed based on these accusations.

Critics have taken issue with the layout of the affidavit itself. They accuse the government of using unethical means to introduce unsupported innuendo into the public debate - including information that fails to meet proper evidentiary standards and would not hold up in a court of law. While a judge has found probable cause to believe the defendants committed crimes, these are limited to the six offenses listed above and everything else is merely speculation.

"If the government doesn't have solid evidence, they'll do everything they can to convict you in the court of public opinion" says a distinguished professor of criminal procedure at the University of Michigan Law School who agreed to speak off the record. "It's wrong, but that's how they do it." The Associated Press headline on Wednesday - "Leader of Radical Islam Group Killed" - indicates that they may have already succeeded.

The AP story goes on to say, "No one was charged with terrorism. But Abdullah was 'advocating and encouraging his followers to commit violent acts against the United States.'" When asked about such contradictions, US Attorney Terrence Berg told the New York Times that "the charges speak for themselves." Several legal scholars I spoke with disagreed, however, calling the affidavit "bizarre" and "unusual." Why was no one charged with terrorism? Is the government making a distinction between "terrorism" and promoting violence against the United States? Or is there simply no substantive evidence to support such a charge?

The government has tried to assuage concerns of Muslim and Arab leaders in Southeast Michigan by referring to this as an "isolated incident." Irregularities in the government's account, however, and its handling of the case suggest otherwise. For example, the affidavit is signed by an agent who is part of a "counter-terrorism squad." Why is a counter-terrorism squad investigating tampering with VIN numbers and the sale of stolen furs in the first place?

Inquiries to Mr. Berg's office were directed to Public Information Officer Gina Balaya. "The affidavit speaks for itself," she tells me. When I ask her to clarify the terrorism angle, she refuses, citing an "ongoing investigation." When I press her further, she says that her job isn't to answer questions, but merely to distribute copies of the press release and affidavit to interested parties. "That's all I can do."

Special Agent Sandra Berchtold, spokesperson for the Detroit division of the FBI, was more responsive. She defends the alleged innuendo in the background of the affidavit as necessary to justify the "armed and dangerous" designation made in the warrants about the suspects.

The American Muslim Taskforce (AMT), a national umbrella organization of major Islamic organizations, has long been critical of dubious FBI tactics that target underprivileged individuals within the Muslim community. Dr. Agha Saeed, AMT chair, attacks the FBI's continued use of agent provocateurs. "The task of a civilized government," he tells me, "is not to trick people into doing something wrong, and then say gotcha." Rather, the government should "always encourage people to do the right thing at the right time."

Asked about infiltration of houses of worship and monitoring of religious services - both of which were significant components of the FBI's investigation - Ms. Berchtold directs me to the publicly available portions of the Domestic Intelligence and Operations Guidelines (DIOG). Just because something is legal, though, doesn't make it right. Omar Regan grew emotional when he asked me, "What world are we living in?" "The government is supposed to serve and protect the people," he said. "Instead, they use scare tactics that build mistrust in the community."

Abdullah Bey El-Amin, imam of the Muslim Center - one of Detroit's largest and most influential mosques - accuses the FBI of preying on the weakest segments of the population. "You go to the poorest part of town," he says, "where people don't have jobs, they don't have running water, they don't have heat, and you say 'I have a fur coat you can sell.'" "They weren't even sophisticated enough to get this stuff and steal it," he continues. "The FBI had to bring them stuff." What about media reports of a dangerous plot to take over the United States, I ask. "They couldn't even take over their own block. And the FBI knew this, and they let it go on for three years."

"We don't condone the type of behavior that is alleged," he reiterates. But in three years of investigation, the strongest case the government could build involved allegedly changing the VIN number on a used truck. "It wasn't even a new truck," he exclaims. "Why doesn't the government sic dogs on the crack importers and drug dealers who are destroying our communities instead?"

The Investigation

The circumstances of Luqman Abdullah's death continue to be a topic of speculation throughout the community. One widespread narrative maintains that the FBI had Mr. Abdullah cornered in a warehouse and then dispatched a dog to subdue him. When he shot the dog, agents returned fire, killing him. Mr. Regan, who washed his father's body in preparation for the funeral, confirms the presence of 18 gunshot wounds. He also says the coroner told him that his father's body was handcuffed when it arrived.

The US Attorney's press release describes "an exchange of gunfire" after Mr. Abdullah fired the initial shot. However, the Associated Press quotes the FBI's Agent Berchtold as saying "Abdullah fired a weapon and was killed by gunfire from agents." Paul Chevigny, Professor Emeritus at the New York University School of Law, was unfamiliar with the facts of the case, but when the above scenario was presented to him as a hypothetical situation, his response was unequivocal. "Killing a dog," he said, "is certainly not grounds for killing a person."

The FBI Shooting Incident Review Team is conducting an internal inquiry. Meanwhile, since the incident occurred in the city of Dearborn, the Dearborn Police Department is handling the criminal aspects of the investigation. While a press release from Chief Ronald Haddad states that his department is "the lead investigative agency in this incident", his office is nevertheless referring all media inquiries to the FBI. (Interestingly, the mayor's chief spokesperson, contacted on Tuesday afternoon, seemed to suggest that the FBI was calling the shots and seemed unaware of Dearborn PD's leading role.)

Ms. Berchtold was asked about how many FBI agents had been involved in the incident, and if they had been suspended pending investigation or if they were still on duty; she refused to comment. She confirmed that a K-9 was involved and was airlifted for emergency veterinary assistance. She was unable to discuss why a K-9 unit was involved in the first place or whether that was standard FBI procedure in such situations. (An FBI press release indicates a memorial will be held for the dog in Quantico, Virginia.)

Meanwhile, numerous organizations, including the American Muslim Task Force, the Muslim Alliance in North America, and the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, have joined Mr. Abdullah's family and continue to call for an independent investigation.


Something Omar Regan told me during our interview sticks with me. "They forgot about the people in the hood," he had said. From the comfort of my well-lit, secure, heated office on the medical campus of the University of Michigan, I look up the statistics. Detroit is officially the poorest city in the United States. Nearly 34% of residents and 48% of children live below the federal poverty line. For a family of four, that comes to $22,000 -- most graduate student research assistants here are paid more than that.

A black man, a Muslim, and a community leader is shot 18 times in an FBI raid amidst allegations of entrapment and unethical conduct. The media frenzy drives the story for a few days and we are inundated with talk of nefarious Muslim plots to take over the United States. Meanwhile, the struggle to survive continues in the inner city and somewhere a child wonders what happened to that guy who spent thirty years feeding the poor and hungry.

This is a story about the death of an Imam, a family's mourning, and a community's search for answers. But it is just as much a story about the greater issues of race, religion, poverty, authority, and justice in society. If we can understand that much, then perhaps we will have learned something from the unfortunate death of Imam Luqman Abdullah.

Hamdan Azhar
is a graduate student in biostatistics at the University of Michigan. An accomplished writer on international affairs, his works have been published in the Huffington Post,
Counterpunch, and the Asia Times.

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