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GUANTANAMO – We are not alone

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One day while walking through the Loop of downtown Chicago, I saw something different from my everyday walk to school.

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I noticed a No Parking sign that caught my eye, different from all the hundreds in the Loop. Something was clearly noticeable about it; a bright red sticker attached to its plain black painted pole. The sticker did its job of asking to be seen and drew me in for closer inspection.

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In blunt bold black, it read “CLOSE GUANTANAMO” over a blood red background. As I walked away from the sticker on the sign, I slowly realized something important in regards to our desire to shut down Guantanamo Bay: we are not alone.

Just by looking at the sticker and its nature, it was clear that this is not the work of a Muslim organization. It’s too clean, too crisp, and too good for the usual Muslim activist group. A super simple red sticker with a clear and blunt message of what is wanted: to “CLOSE GUANTANAMO”.

Run a quick search on Google and you’ll find more anti-Gitmo groups than you can count on your hands. They exist, they’re very active, and they’re fighting for the same cause we are. We have to realize this when moving for our own efforts, as it will bring hope and support for this seemingly uphill struggle.

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While some people may be surprised to find such support from non-Muslims, the idea is nothing new. During the time of the Prophet (SAW), the Quraysh were fed up of the Muslims in Makkah and placed a boycott on the entire tribe of Banu Hashim. For three years, Muslims and non-Muslims alike were inhumanely deprived of food, provisions, and any ounce of human compassion. In the end, it was a group of non-Muslims from Quraysh that made a pact to end the boycott once and for all.

This example from the Seerah exists today for us in the many human rights activist groups against things like Guantanamo Bay and the war in Iraq. We should work together with anyone that is on our side in these kinds of causes joining them in their events, bringing a much-needed strong Muslim presence in their line of work.

Or we can invite them to our own events, to help make our voices even louder. Imagine a national conference on Guantanamo Bay, inviting Muslim and non-Muslim speakers, educating and motivating the masses and making it loud and clear to the world that Muslims and non-Muslims alike want to see the end of Guantanamo forever.

Us Muslims need to step things up. Get out there and do something, anything for Guantanamo. Whether it’s playing Road To Guantanamo for MSA Weekly Night Event, or reading up on Gitmo updates on the news or on cageprisoners.com, doing a little can go a long way. We have every reason to be active for this cause, and the help and support of the non-Muslims only helps things even more.

No one is saying you’ll change the situation overnight, but it can help in one big weakness the Muslims have with Gitmo, their ignorance of it! At least then we’ll have more people to give it what it needs most, dua.

I ask Allah SWT to empower us in this cause and help end Guantanamo Bay and projects like it once and for all.

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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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SaqibSaab is an average Desi Muslim guy living in Chicago. He enjoys videography and design as side hobbies, and helps out with AlMaghrib Institute in Chicago, Wasat Studios, and other projects here and there. His go-around vehicle is a 2007 Volkswagen Jetta 5-speed Wolfburg Edition. Originally born in Michigan, he and his wife reside in Chicagoland with his parents who come from Bangalore, India. He blogs personally at SaqibSaab.com.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. AbuAbdAllah

    April 15, 2008 at 5:57 AM

    bismillah. may Allah subhanahu wata ala close down every prison where injustice rules, especially Gitmo. may He guide and correct the jailers and rulers who open such places in the name of fear. may He succor and strengthen the unjustly imprisoned, heal and bring justice to the tortured, and forgive and give His Mercy to them and their families.

  2. awake

    April 15, 2008 at 9:37 AM

    What are they supposed to do with all the detainees in Guantanomo right after they close it?

  3. Irum Sarfaraz

    April 15, 2008 at 10:00 AM

    Recruit them in the US army….considering the kind of work the US is doing around the world, they’d be a perfect fit…!!

  4. awake

    April 15, 2008 at 10:18 AM

    -April 15th, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Nice one. But the question was sincere. What would you do with all the detainees that are currently there?

  5. zk

    April 15, 2008 at 11:18 AM

    I’m surprised that people who may be surprised that there are non-muslims who would campaign to close down Gitmo.

    We see it as an issue regarding muslims, others, particularly those on the left of the political spectrum, see it as an issue of rights and justice and don’t want atrocities done in their name. Alot of this from what I’ve seen comes from how important the american constitution, and its guarantee the right of due process for all persons- not just citizens, is- some stuff I’ve read has the passion of someone defending religious scripture. They recognize that the placing of the camp in Cuba is an attempt to thwart the constitution, but it still grossly offends the segment of society that is willing to think about things. Same thing about torture, or the patriot act- people are offended not necessarily because of sympathy with the people who will fall victim, but because it goes against the ideals of justice set out by the constitution. Which is good enough, really.

    We may label many liberals as God-less because they don’t have faith, but often, I’ve seen them place that same level of faith and passion in the constitution and defend it. (And its a good document to defend, if it got implemented fairly.) Of course such attitudes differ vastly by geography in this country. If you live in Southern Georgia, my New England exposure to left-wing attitudes and seeing them dominate seems like a far cry, while I can’t even imagine what its like to live in ‘a red state’.

    As for what you do with the detainees? bail, Fair trials, which they are likely to be extremely short and have their name cleared and be given public apologies – look at how Germany is still apologizing to the jewish people for the holocaust – and then while nothing can compensate the atrocities they’ve suffered at Gitmo, they should sue the US govt- a class action suit that would in its proceedings bring to light what went on in there, as well as a tangible dent of a few billion dollars. And yes, it is possible to sue the US govt according to the legal system here. (different fact that the current bench of supreme court judges are about as right wing as any neo-cons either, so to leave them the power to make decisions would leave the law tainted with politics, but that is a different issue.)

    And the gov’t should also cover the costs of any physical and psychological rehabilitation, loss of income,and compensated for ‘pain and suffering’ as its called in legalese, and make sure that any foreigners are not harassed by their own govts once they are repatriated.

  6. Maryam Hassan

    April 15, 2008 at 12:37 PM

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum

    In terms of other actions you can take part in:

    1. Contact me at contact@cageprisoners.com if you would like us to arrange a speaker to come to your community, such as former Gtmo Chaplain, James Yee, or some of the attorneys representing those in Gtmo.

    2. We could arrange conferences with former Guantanamo detainee and Cageprisoners spokesman, Moazzam Begg, via video link (since he is not able to travel to the US). He recently participated in the Muslim Link Paper’s dinner on March 29th and they will be organising similar conferences in the DC area insha’Allah in the next month or two.

    3. Keep an eye out for protests and actions organised by groups in the US such as http://www.ccr-ny.org, amnestyusa.org and aclu.org There is also a good group called Witness Torture who organise actions on the East Coast and have a sister group working on the West Coast.

    4. In addition to Road to Guantanamo, Amnesty make available copies of the film “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” for viewing in local communities.

    5. Insha’Allah we should have a new series of leaflets available on our website that you can use for mass distribution. Amnesty also provide a good series of Gtmo literature.

    Wassalaamu ‘alaykum

    Maryam

  7. al-hakim

    April 15, 2008 at 1:30 PM

    you’re right it is time to close down gtmo and start up the military tribunals. hopefully they haven’t run out of virgins yet.

  8. kingRichard

    April 15, 2008 at 1:43 PM

    Most of the time these people own countries won’t take them back. what should become of them, and what should happen to prisoner who is released only to be recaptured on the battlefield?

  9. Faiez

    April 15, 2008 at 1:50 PM

    “it was clear that this is not the work of a Muslim organization. It’s too clean, too crisp, and too good for the usual Muslim activist group.”

    Quit your whinin’ and do something about it.

  10. AbdelRahman Murphy

    April 15, 2008 at 1:50 PM

    We are too engrossed in aqeedah and fiqh debates, my madhab vs. your madhab, to address the real, tangible, and devastating problems that our communities face. From domestic violence, to drug and sex abuse, to larger issues like Guantanamo, it’s time for American Muslims to stop ignoring the problems that run through the arteries of our communities.

    Like Saqib said, the key is not only awareness, but action. We can watch all the YouTube videos we want, and get as emotionally riled up as we want, but at the end of the day the actions we do to help our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed are the only things that will last after all the talk is done.

    An upside towards working with established organization, albeit non-Muslim, is that they are organized and mobilized with resources that enable them to do actual “damage.” In this aspect, it’s incumbent upon us to work with them, because our goals are the same, and the benefit is mutual. Imagine, like Saqib said, pooling all possible resources from different groups together in order to have a huge organized march against Guantanamo, in 10 different cities, on the same day, at the same time. How amazing would it be? Insha Allah we can pull it off.

    Blogging about it is a good first step, Saqib :-) now begins the planning insha Allah.

  11. SaqibSaab

    April 15, 2008 at 2:30 PM

    Quit your whinin’ and do something about it.

    Doing something about it was the point of the post, Mr. Phase :) .

  12. awake

    April 15, 2008 at 2:53 PM

  13. Siraaj Muhammad

    April 15, 2008 at 3:28 PM

    Bush is a bit too stubborn and will not shut Guantanomo down. If you want to save yourself some time and trouble, get a Democrat in the White House and Guantanomo should be shut down virtually overnight due to, as noted above, the constituents who put democrats are left of center that consider Guantanomo a gross violation of the ethics / values Americans hold near and dear, and they will pressure their president and congress to:

    1. End the War
    2. Free the Detainees

    and to remove all the stupidity of GB II.

    One caveat – I’m not sure hillary clinton would actually do it – I think Obama would.

    Siraaj

  14. ibnabeeomar

    April 15, 2008 at 3:32 PM

    awake – why dont you read his book, enemy combatant for more information on moazzam begg.

    heres a review of the book – http://lotaenterprises.wordpress.com/2006/12/09/locked-up-for-real/

  15. Atif

    April 15, 2008 at 3:39 PM

    Wasn’t there a quote on Mujahideen Ryder’s blog where Obama said he wanted to close down Gitmo?

  16. awake

    April 15, 2008 at 3:44 PM

    Thanks for the link. I read the review on your site. I am more interested in the past and the circumstances that landed him in Gitmo in the first place, for we all know he didn’t fall from the sky there.

    I know that his name came up on a money issue with al-Qaeda and that after he was apprehended he was never officially charged by the US during his detention in Gitmo and was ultimately released back to Britain at their behest and then released.

  17. h.ahmed

    April 15, 2008 at 4:05 PM

    I agree with ZK. the very fact that any of us are surprised to see non-muslims wanting to shut down gitmo – is also shocking.

    For years – so many of us (And by us I mean Americans ,not only Muslims) have been speaking out against gitmo. Gitmo itself is not only discriminatory and unjust, but also unconstitutional and weve been demanding that it be shut down for years (for me – since CHaplain James Yee’s story was made public)

    And yes – Barack Obama has called for the closing of Guantanamo Bay! – I love amir and his site, but if his site is the source for ur political knowedge – we really need to start reading more about the issues at hand.

    and i also agree with AbdelRahman Murphy. We spend far too much time arguing ridiculous impractical issues and not enough time getting things done. I was recently at a talk by Congressman Keith Ellison at NYU – where he spoke about all the atrocities being undertaken. We all need to do our best to educate ourselves and our neighbors about wahts going on and share these stories (i.e. promote these films, books, websites) of these prisoners tortured for years without any evidence.

    wassalaaam

  18. ibnabeeomar

    April 15, 2008 at 4:12 PM

    if you read his book it goes into all the details about it, i just don’t recall them offhand.

  19. Muslim

    April 15, 2008 at 4:21 PM

    Actually regardless of who wins the election Guantanamo will be closed since all the candidates are against it even John McCain and has openly called for it.

  20. Hassan

    April 15, 2008 at 4:32 PM

    awake, I guess our government can have following options, since holding people indefinitely without trial is unconstitutional and immoral:

    1. Try the detainees in US courts for their crimes, if they found guilty then they serve the punishment, if not, they should be let go off
    2. Try the detainees in international courts.
    3. Send them back to their countries, if they refuse to take them, then keep them in gitmo, their relatives in the respective countries would push their governments
    4. There would be few cases when the detainees would not want to go back to their country (like China), then I guess some country has to volunteer to give them asylum. Like last time Albania gave them asylum.

    You have any suggestion?

  21. awake

    April 15, 2008 at 5:00 PM

    Hassan,

    it’s a tough call. I believe the Supreme Court has ruled that they are not subject to international law. I would assume either military tribunals or standard trials in US courts.

    Deportation is always an option if the circumstances warrant it, but I assume the US would be wary of releasing potential combatants to rejoin the war.

  22. ibnabeeomar

    April 15, 2008 at 5:24 PM

    maybe if we end the war there’s nothing left to rejoin.. :)

  23. Faiez

    April 15, 2008 at 5:36 PM

    “Doing something about it was the point of the post, Mr. Phase”

    I meant about the graphical stuff, not gitmo ;)

    How was abu gharaib shut down again?

  24. SaqibSaab

    April 15, 2008 at 5:53 PM

    I meant about the graphical stuff, not gitmo ;)

    It was an observation (as was the entire post), not whining. I hope no one else thought it was such…

  25. awake

    April 15, 2008 at 7:36 PM

    ibnabeeomar,

    You’ll get no arguments from me on that one. If only it were that easy.

  26. Faiez

    April 15, 2008 at 9:21 PM

    SaqibSaab, I’m not trying to prove you wrong, you may be correct in your observation, my point was you have the talented ability to change what you are talking about. So lat’s do it.

  27. SaqibSaab

    April 15, 2008 at 9:45 PM

    JazakAllah khair.

    For anyone interested, the sticker is still on the pole. I took those pics in February. You can find it on Dearborn St in between Van Buren and Congress on the west side of the street. Here’s a Google Street Maps link in which you can see the sticker.

    Click: Close Guantanmo sticker on pole

  28. Amad

    May 1, 2008 at 2:58 PM

    And “awake” the point is?

    Perhaps this is more EVIDENCE for shutting down GITMO and having proper trials unless you don’t trust our judicial system?

    Furthermore, going by this logic, we should never release any prisoner for fear that he may end up doing something worse.

  29. awake

    May 1, 2008 at 4:20 PM

    The point is simply what I stated earlier in this thread. You have to do something with the detainees if you close down Gitmo and apparently, just letting them all go should not be an option that the US considers.

    From the article there appears to be at least one guilty person who was detained there, contrary to popular opinion that they are all victims.

    That is all.

  30. Umm Uthmaan

    May 5, 2008 at 5:09 PM

    We have just published an exclusive interview with Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files.

    Interview: Author Andy Worthington Talks about His Book The Guantánamo Files

  31. Mr GQ

    May 5, 2008 at 6:35 PM

    AbdelRahman Murphy, you said,

    “Imagine, like Saqib said, pooling all possible resources from different groups together in order to have a huge organized march against Guantanamo, in 10 different cities, on the same day, at the same time. How amazing would it be? Insha Allah we can pull it off.”

    You really believe demonstrations/protests/marches work? If they did, Iraq wouldnt have been in shambles right now.

    This isn’t a fairy tale where you can imagine things like in that Clorox commerical.

    I rather sit home and eat my cookies ‘n cream ice cream while watching re-runs of Different Strokes than waste my time going to protests.

  32. SaqibSaab

    May 6, 2008 at 2:38 PM

    Protests have always been a hotly debated issue for effectiveness. I was referring more to conferences and the likes, to educate the masses.

    Both can be questioned for ultimate effectiveness; they don’t/won’t change anything overnight. But they alleviate one of our biggest problems: ignorance & lack of concern for the Ummah. Abu Ghuraib is another example that comes to mind…

    We ask Allah (swt) to help us.

  33. Faiez

    May 6, 2008 at 3:37 PM

    Just give the job to tablighi jamaat. They’ll deliver to your doorstep.

  34. MR

    May 7, 2008 at 8:17 PM

    I’m pretty shocked that you (SaqibSaab) were surprised to see non-Muslims wanting to close Guantenemo. In fact, non-Muslims are much more vocal and concerned with freedom and rights under the constitution being ignored by the government than Muslims. Muslims on the other hand are too busy with details of Islam that even the Sahaba (ra) didnt worry about.

    In fact, the average Muslim America is very close-minded in terms of working with the non-Muslims and supporting the non-Muslims.

  35. Siraaj Muhammad

    May 8, 2008 at 2:32 AM

    You really believe demonstrations/protests/marches work? If they did, Iraq wouldnt have been in shambles right now.

    This isn’t a fairy tale where you can imagine things like in that Clorox commerical.

    I rather sit home and eat my cookies ‘n cream ice cream while watching re-runs of Different Strokes than waste my time going to protests.

    What if Allah subhaana wa ta’aala rewarded you because your intent was to try to do something, anything, within your means to help them out. Would you still consider it a waste of time?

    Siraaj

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