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Update on Dr. Aafia: Brother Speaks at Civil Rights Event, Teaming up with MLFA

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We haven’t forgot about Dr. Aafia, Have you?

Muslim Matters obtained this heart wrenching transcript of Mr. Siddiqui’s speech at the Muslim Legal Fund of America’s (MLFA) annual fund raising event from an attendee.

Learn about this case’s unique challenges and support Dr. Aafia’s official legal defense fund at: https://www.mlfausa.com/donateAafia.php!

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Time to put all those past pledges into action!

The following is a transcript of Mr. Siddiqui’s (Aafia’s brother) speech at the MLFA Annual Fund Raising Dinner on April 25, 2009:

afia“Asalam Alaikum,

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you information about my little sister, Aafia Siddiqui’s case. I especially want to commend you for your courage and support in that you are here tonight.

I have been given the difficult task of presenting a short briefing regarding the facts surrounding Aafia’s case.

However, a brief explanation will not allow me delve into all the angles involved in the case so I will try to focus on the core points from my perspective.

So much has been claimed about my sister. So many labels have been applied to Aafia that unfortunately her humanity has been lost. In order to put the case in context, I will have to digress slightly, and perhaps the best place to start is the beginning – the beginning for me was our upbringing.

Aafia was the youngest child in our small family of three. She was always an accomplished student, who treasured education and it was this pursuit of education that lead her to the U.S. at a young age. When she came here, she lived with me before getting her scholarship to MIT. During this time, my little sister devoted herself to her studies and Muslim student activities. She always had a soft spot for helping people and dawah work.

Aafia also had a passion for children, which sounds nice to say; however, proof was in the fact that she dedicated her education at MIT and Brandeis towards the developing of creative and easy techniques for teaching children. Her own dream was to start a school where her techniques could be put into practice. And when she had children of her own, she was totally devoted to them.

Here is one of the many cruel ironies of Aafia’s life in that someone who dedicated her life to children would end up losing her own.

It was just over 6 years ago that my family’s nightmare began.

In March 2003, my little sister and her three small children all disappeared from Karachi.

It was Aafia, her oldest, Ahmad, who was 6 at the time, Maryum who was 4 and Suleman, who was only 6 months.

After many attempts by my family to find out what happened, we heard reports from both the Pakistani & U.S. press that Aafia had been picked up by security officials and handed over to the U.S. for questioning.

Then nothing… Silence. We could get no official word.

As we started to raise questions, my family was “advised” to stay quiet and told we would be left alone…

I am sure you all remember the atmosphere of the time. There was a tremendous climate of fear… and many reports of people just disappearing, especially overseas. Over time, we made discreet inquiries but as hope began to fade we resigned ourselves to the belief that she and her children were probably dead. My mother would search burial sites as not a single day went by that we forgot her but we kept our pain private as we struggled to move on.

Meanwhile, my sister Aafia, the human being, the mother of three was lost in her own abduction. Her story made her fair game. She was transformed into a flash point, a talking point for all sorts of allegations and speculations in the press, while legends evolved around her from parties with their own interests and agendas.

While we were silently grieving, many human rights groups added Aafia’s name to the growing list of missing persons. It seems Aafia’s was not an isolated case. There were hundreds…

Some of you may recall the time when the issue of missing persons became a hot button in Pakistan. It was during this time, when the Chief Justice started asking about the missing persons, that he was sacked.

In early 2008, Moazzem Beg, a former detainee at Gitmo identified Aafia among the women prisoners at Bagram. By early July, a prominent Pakistani politician, Imran Khan and British reporters released reports about Aafia being a detainee in one of the secret prisons.

Then suddenly, in late July 2008, we learned directly from the FBI that Aafia had been shot in Afghanistan and was being brought to the US on charges of attempting to shoot U.S. servicemen.

We were in total shock – on the one hand my family was overjoyed to learn that Aafia was alive… yet at the same time she faced such extraordinary charges and allegations that we feared for her future.

In an instant, we experienced simultaneous joy and horror; hope and despair, a miracle and an extraordinary test.

And the children – Only one of her children is accounted for. The others, to this day are still missing.

I have often wondered what it must have been like for her and I cannot imagine … just imagine what you would do if somebody took your children? Or, rather what would you not do?

It is important that you understand this, because unless you grasp this, you will not grasp the enormity of this case and what it represents. Why Aafia is where she is and how she acts. Why so many feel for her and why others may feel threatened by her case.

Officially she is charged with the attempted murder of U.S. soldiers. She has categorically denied these charges. Several journalists, including one of the first foreign journalists from Reuters who visited the scene and interviewed eye witnesses have disputed the official version, echoing Aafia’s account.

The charges are hard for me to understand because my little sister loved this country (The U.S.), where she earned an outstanding education. She disliked violence and respected the American work ethic and the value placed on merit and self achievement. Her own life exemplified this. She completed her education at MIT by working campus jobs and earning scholarships. She balanced her religious faith with a desire to forge a modern education. – And here is another one of those cruel ironies – as that very education is being used to vilify her.

Currently, the court proceedings are lingering. This adds to all the confusion and hype surrounding the case, not to mention challenging her physical and mental well being and even the ability to build a proper defense.

Then, there is the atmosphere of fear that we still live in today as those who would rise up and speak boldly are few and far between. I hear many private testimonials from people who knew her and still speak highly favorably about her but most fear speaking out publicly.

Aafia has alleged that she was held captive for over 5 years. The government’s response was to initially send Aafia for a mental evaluation and their own doctors determined she was incompetent to stand trial and may have post traumatic stress disorder.

The prosecution, not liking this, decided to get outside experts to overrule the findings (their own original findings) and currently the original doctors are revising their findings so she can stand trial.

Meanwhile, so much time has passed and Aafia continues to linger in prison. But despite all these challenges, she remains spiritually strong and her faith is undiminished although I do find myself questioning my own at times.

Aafia does have court appointed lawyers. But we learned over the past few months that court appointed lawyers have severe restrictions. For example, in 9 months not one defense lawyer has visited the scene of the crime nor interviewed a single witness or even made a motion for bail.

Court appointed lawyers are paid low fees, and even then, the lawyers constantly struggle get funds pre-approved from the judge. In this system, the other side knows everything you are doing.

Appointed lawyers do not even have to have expertise or experience in the area of charges relevant to the case of Aafia.

So, how can Aafia build a trusting and confidential relationship without a lawyer of her own choosing?

The case is complex and requires independent investigation and a team of capable and experienced lawyers.

This is why are teaming up with MLFA. They have experience in getting a solid legal team in place and are set up to do proper fund raising and accounting for cases like this. They have access to the best legal minds and experts and the ability to negotiate the best fees.

I never thought anything like this could ever happen to my family… I mean this is, or this was, something that only happens to other people…. We were professionals going about our daily lives and yet, here I stand before you after 6 years, 6 long and painful years that have taken a very heavy toll on all our lives, the lives of our children and on our community.

But I stand here because I want to thank you for your courage, your support and your prayers. In spite of, or perhaps because of all the contradicting reports, you are here tonight. Help us help Aafia.

I believe that perhaps the most striking duality about my little sister’s case is that while justice has eluded her, perhaps she can help establish justice for others.”

Dr. Aafia’s family has offically partnered with MLFA to secure funding and a effective legal defense. To support Dr. Aafia visit her case’s website at: https://www.mlfausa.com/donateAafia.php!

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

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.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Yasir Qadhi

    May 13, 2009 at 10:14 AM

    Subhan Allah.

    We ask Allah to grant aafiya to Sr. Aafia and her family, to release her swiftly and to reunite her with her children and family. Ameen ya Rabb al-Alameen…

    • Amad

      May 13, 2009 at 10:46 AM

      Many of us are geniunely concerned about the sister. And we have written and said a lot of words.

      Now it is time to put the words into action, and WALK THE TALK. If we REALLY do care, and REALLY do have a vested interest in this, beyond the we’ll make dua (necessary but not sufficent), and if we can afford even one dollar, then DONATE. Donate to the MLFA, an excellent organization for Dr. Aafia. You never know, tomorrow it may be your turn to be represented by MLFA. Who wants to start us on the blessed funds drive for Dr. Aafia??

  2. UmmOsman

    May 13, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    Salam

    Just yesterday I was thinking about sister Aafia(actually did the search on google to see whats going on with her case), Subhan Allah.

    Ameen to Sheikh Yasir’s dua.

  3. shahgul

    May 13, 2009 at 10:53 AM

    Ameen.

  4. Mariam

    May 13, 2009 at 12:58 PM

    While Iran frees Roxana Saberi, Aafia Siddiqui and her family suffer in the hands of those who claim to be “civilized.”

    May Allah help us and strengthen us, ameen.

    • Amad

      May 13, 2009 at 4:13 PM

      That is an interesting paradox that you bring up.

      And the fact that many of the Muslim organizations calling for Roxana’s release are strangely silent about Aafia, is another unfortunate paradox.

      • Amad

        May 13, 2009 at 4:14 PM

        Like CAIR, though I am a big supporter of the organization.

  5. Khalil Meek

    May 13, 2009 at 5:55 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum:

    Thank you for sharing the family’s concerns regarding Dr. Aafia’s case.

    We ask people to look into this case themselves, and to do so with an open mind. There is a lot of information ‘out there’ on the Internet, and in the media. Many of the stories demonize Aafia, while some raise her to sainthood. Aafia is neither demon nor saint. Aafia is simply an ordinary mother, daughter and sister trapped in an extraordinary nightmare.

    Insha Allah, MLFA will do everything we can to provide the most effective legal defense possible. However, this can only happen with the support of concerned people like you who want to stand up for her defense. Now is the time to make a difference. It is up to us to take extraordinary action on her behalf.

    Please donate generously to Dr. Aafia’s legal defense fund @ https://www.mlfausa.com/donateAafia.php

    Jazakum Allahu Khairun,

    Khalil Meek
    President & CEO
    Muslim Legal Fund of America

    You can visit us @ http://www.mlfausa.org for more details about this case.

    • Amad

      May 13, 2009 at 10:13 PM

      jazakAllahkhair Br. Khalil… the MLFA is probably one of the most needed organizations in America as far as Muslims are concerned. Our legal rights are being trampled everyday, some cases are worse than others… the train of Muslim civil rights is fast derailing, we have to get it back on track again.

      I hope and urge everyone to stand behind the MLFA. May Allah give it all the success in the world, and its workers and leaders success in the hereafter as well. Ameen.

    • UmmeAmmaarah

      May 14, 2009 at 11:49 AM

      JazakAllahu khaira. You are truly doing a great service to the muslim community. May Allah Ta’Ala bless you all with His infinite bounty, wisdom, strength and hikmah, and give all your good niyyahs – professional & professional, a beautiful outcome.

  6. Olivia

    May 14, 2009 at 1:21 AM

    May Allah make it easy for her and her family. I am so sad about her children especially. May Allah reunite her with them in this life and if that is not possible then in the next. Ameen.

  7. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    May 14, 2009 at 1:43 AM

    May Allah subhanahu wata ala accept the duas for Dr. Aafia. May He cause her to be freed from unjust treatment and imprisonment. May He keep her children and family safe, and reunite them with peace and happiness. May He restore the commitment to justice that once was a hallmark of the United States. A commitment much demeaned by cases like Dr. Aafia’s and too many others in the so-called War on Terror.

  8. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    May 14, 2009 at 3:34 AM

    Bismillah was salamu alaykum. The following information is from an e-mail sent out by MAS-Houston. The information was not yet posted on their web site:

    Sh. Zoubir is Released!

    Sh. Zoubir was released on bond today around 6pm. He is with his family now. Thanks to everyone for their efforts to support the cause during this time, especially Br. Khalili, Chairman of Coalition to Free Imam Zoubir, and MAS Houston.

    Alhamdolillah, it seems that at least one more family has been reunited. Sh. Zoubir Bouchikhi’s case recently got much attention including on democracynow a few weeks ago: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/4/29/exclusive_jailed_houston_imam_zoubir_bouchikhi

  9. Iesa Galloway

    May 14, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    Asalaam Alaikum!

    A short time ago our readers spent uncounted hours debating each other on how to best help Dr. Aafia. Emotions ran high and unfortunately a lot of our action was limited to posting comments… Where is everyone now?

    Today there is an official, family endorsed legal defense fund!

    By all means make du’ah… however, let’s back it up with financial support!

    It doesn’t take huge amounts of money, it takes people who care about justice doing what they can.

    This is a watershed case that encapsulates so many relevant issues and has the potential to address many of the most pressing challenges of our time!

    Legal defense funds are safe, practical and effective!

    May Allah forgive us and may He grant protection, healing and freedom to Dr. Aafia and her family. AMEEN!

    Check list:

    * Du’ah – Done

    * Donation – Done

    Your turn.

  10. Muhammad Saleem

    May 14, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Jazakallah for this update about our sister Aafiah, may Allah release her soon from this ordeal…Ameen!

    Some brothers and sisters (mostly overseas) would like to donate for the defense of Sr. Aafia Siddiqui to the Muslim Legal Fund of America, but in an anonymous manner. I’m sure you can understand this request, especially after the US government’s ongoing witch hunt of all Islamic charities and aid groups.

    Is there a way for anonymous donations, and if yes, could you please specify it.

    May Allah free all of our oppressed brother and sisters and free them soon. Ameen!

    • Amad

      May 14, 2009 at 4:06 PM

      It would seem to make sense to send an international money order to the address given??

      But I will let the official folks answer that.

      • Iesa Galloway

        May 15, 2009 at 12:09 PM

        MLFA records all donations. Even if they send a cashier’s check or cash they keep the envelop with the return address. The only “anonymous” donations would be cash received during our fundraising events or via mail with no return address.

        • sincethestorm

          May 16, 2009 at 1:26 AM

          This is the address on the website.
          833 E. Arapaho Rd. Suite # 209 Richardson, Texas 75081

          Is this the correct address???

          • Iesa Galloway

            May 17, 2009 at 7:47 AM

            ASA,

            Al Humdulilah, they are a professionally ran organization, so I would trust the address on their official website.

            NOTE: MLFA is handling several cases… please CLEARLY state on any mailed in or check/money order donations what case the funds are for, i.e. in the memo write Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Case.

  11. ar.m

    May 14, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    Jzk!

  12. Umm Fulaanah

    May 14, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    Woow… I never realised the world could be this cruel *shivers*… Subhanallaah…. I hope all those suferring in this world will get justice in the hear-after insha-allaah…. If Allaah wills this sister will be safe either with her loving and caring family or The Al-Mighty – Allaah…

    My Checklist:

    * Donation (Done)
    * Du’aa (Done)
    * Informing Others (Done)

    Alhamdullillaah….

  13. Anonn

    May 15, 2009 at 2:04 AM

    Du’ah – Done
    Donation – Done

  14. Sadaf

    May 16, 2009 at 1:14 AM

    May Allah have mercy on Aafia and free her and reunite her with her children. May Allah bless this family enormously and compensate them in the Akhirah for the pain they have endured for the past 6 years.

    Words can not describe what a mother feels when she has her children snatched away. Not knowing where they are, whether dead or alive, and on top of that living in a male-dominated prison, at the mercy of the men….we all know what happens to women in prisons. On top of that, she has an untended-to gunshot wound…

    Oh Allah, have mercy on Aafia and free her from the hands of the enemy. Ameen. My heart goes out….

  15. Basit

    June 25, 2009 at 3:20 PM

    Assalam Alaikum,
    I noticed on Dawn that Aafia’s hearing is scheduled for tomorrow (June 25); see http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/11-aafia-siddiqui-to-appear-in-new-york-court-friday–il–04.
    Can some one tell me the time?
    Jazak Allah

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