If anyone is planning to attend the trial and can provide us with updates, please contact us at info at muslimmatters dot org or leave a comment indicating so; your presence and blogging of the trial can be a source of information for thousands of Muslims who are thinking of Fahad.
One of the forgotten victims of Bush's “war on terror” continues to linger around in conditions reserved for animals or the worst of criminals. We talked about his case several months ago.
It could be said that Fahad Hashmi may have even fared better in Guantanamo, a setback for a country that is trying to change its image in the Muslim world. Consider what he is going through, probably no better than what an actual hijacker from 9/11, if caught alive, may have had to go through:
- He is held under 24-hour surveillance, which means that he is forced to use the bathroom, take a shower, or do anything that demands basic privacy, while being taped or watched by strangers.
- He has not seen the light of the day for years. Can you imagine what that does to you mind, to your body, not being exposed to the blessing and need for sunlight?
- He eats every meal alone, every day. Those of us who are alone at home, without families, can attest to how difficult it becomes eating alone, day after day.
- He cannot communicate or see anyone else. Human beings are social animals, take away the social element, and it can start eating you from inside.
- He cannot participate in group prayer, communicate with other prisoners or the news media, or listen to or watch any news programs.
- He can write only one letter to one family member a week, using no more than three sheets of paper.
- He may be visited by one family member every two weeks and those visits may not exceed 90 minutes or involve physical contact. No hugs, no embraces. 90 minutes in 2 weeks (20,160 minutes), which equates to 99.5% of alone time.
- He gets newspapers that are 30 days old with sections cut out by the government!
As Bill Quigley, Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, writes in Huffington Post:
Children are taught that the U.S. Constitution protects people accused of crimes. No one is to be punished unless their guilt or innocence has been decided in a fair trial. Until trial, people are entitled to the presumption of innocence. They are entitled to be defended by an attorney of their choice. And the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
Forget children. Muslim Americans, along with Obama's administration is taking great pains to tell skeptical Muslims around the globe that the rights that America guarantees to its citizens are unparalleled in the world. Why are those same rights taken away from an American Muslim?
Bill Quigley is a reminder for everyone that upright Americans exist; rather the majority of Americans are fair-minded (though this number is dwindling as the disease of Islamophobia spreads). WHEN they are presented with the facts, their sense of justice overtakes any sense of prejudice. For instance, a petition signed by hundreds of academics, including Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University, called Mr Hashmi's detention “draconian”.
Unfortunately the media has white-washed these crimes of the government, not dissimilar to their coverage of “collateral” damage in Muslim countries. That is why it is essential for alternative media outlets, such as the blogosphere, to disseminate the truth about such grave matters. Vigils have been held for Fahad, organized by a group led by his brother (on the net: freefahad.com).
The inherent fabric of this nation's criminal justice system “innocence until guilt is proven,” has been a dream that Fahad has not yet seen. If the condition of his imprisonment is not the worst sort of cruel and unusual punishment (even before being convicted of anything), then what is?
If the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, what is the impact of forced isolation? Medical testimony presented in his case in federal court concluded that after 60 days in solitary people's mental state begins to break down. That means a person will start to experience panic, anxiety, confusion, headaches, heart palpitations, sleep problems, withdrawal, anger, depression, despair, and over-sensitivity. Over time this can lead to severe psychiatric trauma and harms like psychosis, distortion of reality, hallucinations, mass anxiety and acute confusion. Essentially, the mind disintegrates. [Quigley]
All Americans must recognize that the issue is not whether Fahad is guilty or not. Even though the system is significantly rigged against a Muslim getting a fair trial in America (let alone in New York as evidenced by the farce of a trial that convicted Dr. Aafia), AT THE VERY LEAST, let the trial happen FIRST before beginning the systematic punishment (which has been ongoing for years in Fahad's case)!
As Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College, who taught Fahad, and is part of his support group said,
Whether he's innocent or not is not the main issue. We're supposed to have a system of rights and due process and the fact is we're standing here in New York, not in Afghanistan or Cuba, and he's a US citizen. All Americans need to be concerned about this and not say it's got nothing to do with me. If it happens to one person, it can happen to anyone.
CAIR has finally done the right thing and joined the effort that seeks justice for Fahad. A joint open letter has been issued by CAIR and other human-rights organizations. The letter reads in part:
We are concerned that Mr. Hashmi has not been informed of the reasons for the imposition of SAMs. We are also concerned that Mr. Hashmi is being held under conditions that are not consistent with international standards for humane treatment. Due to their likely impact on his mental health, we are further concerned that these conditions will prejudice his ability to assist in his own defense.
The Department of Justice stated last year that 46 inmates around the country were being confined pursuant to SAMs. Although we recognize that the department has a legitimate interest in protecting classified information that may harm national security and in protecting the public against acts of terrorism, we are very concerned that inmates held pursuant to such measures are not being given an adequate opportunity to defend against the imposition of SAMs in their cases.
We urge the Attorney General to review and revise the agency's regulations governing the imposition of SAMs to ensure that all prisoners regardless of their security status are held in humane conditions, are not subjected to discriminatory treatment, are given adequate information about why SAMs are being imposed, and are given a full opportunity to argue and present evidence against their imposition.
To view the letter in full click: http://cair-ny.org.s3.amazonaws.com/files/Final%20Open%20Letter.pdf
What can you do?
- Make sincere du‘ā’ for Fahad to receive a fair trial, and to relieve him of his pre-trial torture.
- Spread the word. Tell your neighbors, friends and family members about this case.
- You can write a letter to the editor, even of your local newspaper. Plenty of talking points in the CAIR letter and the Quigley article. Get the word out!
- You can write a letter to the Department of Justice, focusing on the civil rights aspect of this case. *If anyone can figure out the appropriate specific department and contact, please post in comments*
- Make a donation to the Muslim Justice Initiative, which is the umbrella group covering a variety of such cases.
- Make sure you attend the trial if you are in the area, or can make it out there.
Trial for Syed “Fahad” Hashmi
April 28th, 2010
500 Pearl St.
Manhattan, NY 10007
[In front of Judge Loretta Preska]
Image Courtesy “Next Left Notes“