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Who is Dr. Sami Al-Arian and what has he done for the American Muslim community?

By Samina Faheem

Dr. Sami Al-Arian was born on January 14, 1958 in Kuwait to Palestinian parents. His roots are in Jerusalem and Jaffa, Palestine. He came to the United States in 1975 from Egypt. Since 1986, he's taught at the University of South Florida, where he received two outstanding awards for teaching.  As a college professor, father, husband and community leader, countless people have attested to the exemplary life he has lead in his personal and professional relations.

Dr. Al-Arian has also been an active community leader. He helped establish many organizations including the largest grass root organization in the U.S., the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in 1981, and many of  its affiliates. He also co-founded the world and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) in 1990, as a research and academic institution, dedicated to establishing dialogue and understanding between the Muslims and the Western world.

Dr. Al-Arian is also dedicated to interfaith dialogue, community Development and civil rights. He served on the board of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (HOPE), the largest community organization in Hillsborough county, Florida, and is a member of many civic organizations.

Dr. Al-Arian is frequent speaker and lecturer on many campuses, churches, and conferences. He also serves as the local pastor or imam of the local Islamic community in Tampa.

Dr. Al-Arian has also co-founded the Tampa Bay Coalition for justice And Peace. The coalition was formed in June 1997, in response to the unjust imprisonment of Dr. Mazen Al-Najjar under the unconstitutional use of secret evidence and continuous national and local media attacks against Arabs and Muslims. Dr. Al-Arian is a co-founder of National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, the largest national organization to challenge the use of secret evidence. He was elected as its first president in 2000. He is also the recipient of the "Civil Rights Award" of 3 prominent Arab and Muslim Organizations: the American Muslim Alliance, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the American Muslim Council.

Since 1995, Dr. Al-Arian has been the target of an orchestrated campaign to silence him for his pro-Palestinian views.

Why is Dr. Sami Al-Arian arrested?

Dr. Sami Al-Arian has been accused of financing the terrorists Organizations overseas.

Attorney General John Ashcroft is using his case as precedent to pass new legislation U.S. Patriotic II, which will further strip away our rights and constitutional freedoms. This case is clearly political in nature, stemming from the current climate of hysteria and xenophobia. Our public officials have taken advantage of the fear and anger subsequently strip away at our freedoms and paint many respectable Arab and Muslim organizations, leaders and individuals with the brush of terrorism.

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.

AMA National Chairman Dr. Agha Saeed Testified on Behalf of Prof. Al-Arian AMA National Chairman Dr. Agha Saeed Testified on Behalf of Prof. Sami Al-Arian in which Dr. Agha Saeed told the court: "Prof. Sami Al-Arian is my friend and during the last ten years we have worked together to mainstream American Muslim politics."

Dr. Saeed told the court that we have been working together to replace the culture of despair with culture of hope and the culture of bullet with the culture of ballot.

During the cross-examination, Dr. Saeed explained Prof. Al-Arian's call for Jihad by pointing out that this word has at least 7 meanings in the Islamic theological lexicon: self-purification and self-perfection, earning an honest living, public benefit, removal of social vices and inadequacies [poverty, illiteracy, hunger, etc.], speaking truth to power, generosity of heart, mind, and soul, and taking military action when subjected to oppression and injustice. I believe that Prof. Arian had used the word Jihad to induce a spirit of self-purification and public benefit among the community members, Dr. Agha Saeed told the court.

When asked: What do you think of Prof. Al-Arian now after having read the indictment, Dr. Saeed said: The legal system in this country is founded  on the belief that a person is innocent till proven guilty. The Justice Department has made very serious allegation against Prof. Arian but at this stage these are mere allegation. And they will remain so unless and until he is proven guilty in an open court and under open evidence.