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American Muslim
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May, 2003

Donate to Legal Defense Fund for Dr. Sami Al-Arian

By Samina Faheem

Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a prominent Muslim academician and civil rights activist, has now been in jail since Feb. 20, 2003, waiting for his trial on charges of financing the terrorist organizations overseas. A special fund “Tampa Bay Justice Legal Defense Fund Trust” has been established to defend him, as he cannot afford an attorney.

I have been trying to raise money for his legal defense fund but sorry to say that the fundraising has not been very successful. There are six million Muslims in the U.S. yet we are unable to raise money for one of our own Muslim brother. Perhaps people are afraid under the current political atmosphere.

However, as Muslims, we are supposed to be kind, support people in times of trouble, seek and speak the truth, stand by a friend and treat everyone as you want to be treated: fairly. As Americans, we have certain rights although, since 9/11, many of our civil liberties have been taken away but if we do not try to protect our constitutional rights, who will do that for us?

Dr. Sami-Al-Arian is being tried under secret evidence. He needs our prayers, support, strength, financial help and understanding. He is INNOCENT until proven guilty, as established by the law of the land. He needs all of us to believe in him and stand by him and his family in times of hardship.

Apparently, Attorney General John Ashcroft is using the case of Dr. Al-Arian, a former computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida, as a precedent to pass new legislation, Patriotic II Act, which will further strip away our rights and constitutional freedoms. This case seems political in nature, stemming from the current climate of hysteria and xenophobia. Our public officials have taken advantage of the fear and anger and stripped away our freedoms and paint many respectable Arab and Muslim organizations, leaders and individuals with the brush of terrorism.

We don't know where things will go from here. It seems that Dr. Sami-Al-Arian's case will be a test case for Muslims. If fear prevents us from supporting an innocent Muslim leader, then we have failed. Our government will go to our next leader and another organization until we will have nothing left, including our mosques, community centers and our schools. IF that happens, we will have nobody else to blame but ourselves for not trying. If we believe that we are INDEED US citizens then we need to start acting like that. We are not asking for any special favors. 
      
Now finally, is it legal to contribute towards Dr. Al-Arian's legal defense fund trust?

According to the law offices of Gordon and Simmons, LLC it is legal under the U.S. law to make donations for his legal fund and the donors Therefore could not be punished for making donations to the trust.