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Outsourcing Torture: U.S. Court Blocks Maher Arar’s Lawsuit




Maher Arar

Maher Arar

by J.Hashmi

In 2002, Maher Arar was detained without charge by the INS and denied the right to counsel.  Even though he was a Canadian citizen, the United States government–based on Canadian intel–deported him to Syria to be tortured for information.  For ten months, Mr. Arar was thrown in a three-foot by six-foot “grave” and was brutally beaten with shredded electrical cables.  His beatings were so severe that he became suicidal, claiming that death would be better than what he was made to endure.

Mr. Arar noted that the Syrian interrogators asked the exact same questions that were asked by American interrogators, which led him to believe that this was a case of torture by proxy. After 374 days of repeated beatings, Mr. Arar was released without charge, and he was finally reunited with his family in Canada.  The Syrian government declared that they could find no terrorist links, and Imad Moustapha, a Syrian official, stated: “We tried to find anything.  We couldn’t.”

Mr. Arar sued the Canadian and American governments, demanding a formal apology for violating his constitutional rights. The Canadian government established the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar to investigate the issue.  After more than two years of investigation, the Commission of Inquiry ruled in Mr. Arar’s favor, concluding that he had absolutely no terrorist links and that the Canadian government played a role in his deportation to Syria and subsequent torture.

In September of 2006, the RCMP Commissioner Guiliani Zaccardelli issued the following public apology to Mr. Arar during the House of Commons session:

Mr. Arar, I wish to take this opportunity to express publicly to you and to your wife and to your children how truly sorry I am for whatever part the actions of the RCMP may have contributed to the terrible injustices that you experienced and the pain that you and your family endured.

In January of 2007, the Canadian government awarded $11.5 million to Mr. Arar in a compensation settlement, and the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal and public apology on behalf of the government.  However, no punitive actions were taken against any Canadian officials.

Meanwhile, Mr. Arar also sued the United States government, bringing a suit against former Attorney General John Ashcroft, the FBI Director Robert Mueller, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, amongst others.  The suit alleged that the United States government denied Mr. Arar his constitutional right to due process, and that it had violated the Torture Victims Protection Act and international law.

The U.S. government quashed the case by invoking “States Secrets Privilege,” dismissing the suit due to “national security concerns.”  The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented Mr. Arar, appealed the verdict.  However, this week Al-Jazeera reported that the federal appeals court rejected the appeal: “In a 7-4 vote on Monday, the US court of appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with a lower court that Arar could not sue US officials.”

The question now is: will Mr. Arar appeal his case to the Supreme Court?

Anderson Cooper of CNN covered the story:


In 2006, the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award was given to Mr. Arar.  The United States government did not permit him to collect the award, and so Mr. Arar was forced to give a video acceptance speech:


In 2007, Mr. Arar was honored in the annual TIME Magazine 100, listed under number 58 in the Heroes and Pioneers category.  The entry, written by US Senator Patrick Leahy, declared that his case “stands as a sad example of how we have been too willing to sacrifice our core principles to overarching government power in the name of security, when doing so only undermines the principles we stand for and makes us less safe.”  The U.S. government again denied him the right to attend the TIME awards ceremony.

Although the case received considerable media coverage in Canada, it has largely been ignored by the U.S. mainstream media.

For further details, visit

Dr. Hashmi was born and raised in California. Apart from medicine, he enjoys writing about “Islamic topics,” which he does under a number of online aliases. Dr. Hashmi is proud to be one of MM’s more liberal-leaning writers, providing controversial and highly opinionated views.



  1. Avatar


    November 4, 2009 at 12:20 AM

    Oh no not again. Can we discuss another topic please ya shuyukh?


    • Avatar


      November 4, 2009 at 8:13 AM

      A true believer feels for their fellow muslim brothers/sisters….

      Ask yourself… Why dont you feel for them? You might jus surprise yourself!!!

    • Amad


      November 5, 2009 at 4:34 AM

      guess who “bintkaleem” is?

      sockpuppets anyone?

      • Avatar


        November 5, 2009 at 6:53 AM

        Ya Allah, let it be Muhammad Khan so you can ban him.

  2. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    November 4, 2009 at 1:16 AM

    Jazak Allah khayr for this update on this sad case. The refusal of the US government to admit its wrongdoing, when there is hardly any doubt of what took place, when the Canadian government has investigated the case fully and made restitutions, these bear testimony to the shallowness of America’s leaders. Sadly, there are many such cases we know about that do the same, and many, many more prisoners who are still secreted away.

    Leaders of the free world? Leaders in accruing shame, perhaps.

  3. Avatar


    November 4, 2009 at 6:52 AM

    May Allah give justice to brother Maher, and may the scum in the US government who perpetrated this injustice be named, shamed, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


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    November 4, 2009 at 10:48 AM

    Thank you for this update. It highlights how there are many injustices in the US that still have to be mended, it also casts a shadow over the way our government has proceeded post-9/11. This case is one of a plethora that shows the depravity of our policy. Also, notice the disparity in media coverage between Canada and the US. No one here touched it.

  5. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    November 4, 2009 at 10:36 PM

    InshaAllah I think I will watch that 2nd video everyday to remind myself that I cannot sit still and do nothing to benefit the ummah for even one second.

    How pathetic it is that my dear brother must resort to a non-Muslim government and HRW to help him, all because I, his brother, is too weak and lazy to do anything.

    Allahu Musta’an.

  6. Avatar


    November 4, 2009 at 10:50 PM

    was anyone there at RIS during the interview with Maher Arar and his wife? the couple themselves, they looked like they’ve gone trough obstacles/trials/ pain, their expressions looked worn out but the strength they had mashallah you could see it from podium, its something I’ve never seen before, I cant really explained it, they were so meek and humble but yet so strong . I remembered at one point they turned towards the audience and talked about how its important that Muslims should be more involved politically and in their communities. Although they didn’t directly or indirectly say it I’ve felt like i let them down as Muslim.

    • Amad


      November 4, 2009 at 11:35 PM

      I remembered at one point they turned towards the audience and talked about how its important that Muslims should be more involved politically and in their communities.

      mashallah, that’s the true spirit. It is a reminder for all of us that the solution to fight injustice is not to hide in the basement and spend countless hours bemoaning the situation, but rather to do something constructive. And I do believe it all starts with becoming integrated in the local community and making a positive change. There is no better friend for Muslims than word-of-mouth dawah.

      • Avatar


        November 4, 2009 at 11:54 PM

        Hmm you have something against basements.. alhamdulillah we do not have them in Texas, but I have heard they come in handy.

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    November 10, 2009 at 9:22 AM

    I, Johnny, as an American Christian do apologize on behalf of ones with a conscience that i so deeply regret that our country has come to these things and forsook the very fundamentals that once made us great. My heart goes to each of my foreign brothers and sisters of any faith.

    May mercy find us in our great time of need, now

    • Amad


      November 10, 2009 at 10:51 AM

      Johnny, that’s a standup thing to do.

  8. Avatar

    Muslim Girl

    November 13, 2009 at 6:08 AM

    Jazakum’Allah khair for the update. It’s good to know that him and his wife are still fighting for his rights which were so degradingly denied to them. I think they should continue to do this as long as they can and even then I think no “compensation” will ever be enough to recompense the horror he was subjected to.

    I’m currently doing a Political Science Specialist program in university and although I was trying to switch back to Business, reading this makes me want to stay a little bit so that I can at least try to make a difference in cases like these, even if it’s a little.

    • Amad


      November 13, 2009 at 7:59 AM

      That’s the spirit! May Allah help you in helping the ummah.

  9. Avatar


    November 24, 2009 at 5:46 AM

    I had the opportunity of meeting his wife a few years back in the midst of all the craziness. She is quite the woman mashaAllah.

    Alhamdulillah for the fact Canada slightly regained its senses with the lawsuit and inquiry. The day America does though… subhanAllah, that’s when things will slightly lessen.

    Keep all your brothers in your du’aas inshaAllah. They’re still being arrested left and right for no reason… may Allah swt protect our Ummah.

  10. Pingback: hudhaifa

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Ya Qawmi: Strengthen Civic Roots In Society To Be A Force For Good

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari



For believers the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community which is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an. Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (improvement of character, etc) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to non-Muslims in their Qawm and beyond. This in effect is their service to humanity and to please their Creator. With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their utmost to serve human beings with honesty, integrity and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.

Like many other parts of the world, Britain is going through a phase lacking in ethical and competent leadership. People are confused, frustrated and worried; some are angry. Nativist (White) nationalism in many western countries, with a dislike or even hatred of minority immigrant people (particularly Muslims and Jews), is on the rise. This is exacerbated through lowering religious literacy, widespread mistrust and an increase in hateful rhetoric being spread on social media. As people’s patience and tolerance levels continue to erode, this can bring unknown adverse consequences.

The positive side is that civil society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in most developed countries. While there seem to be many Muslims who love to remain in the comfort zone of their bubbles, a growing number of Muslims, particularly the youth, are also effectively contributing towards the common good of all.

As social divisions are widening, a battle for common sense and sanity continues. The choice of Muslims (particularly those that are socially active), as to whether they would proactively engage in grass-roots civic works or social justice issues along with others, has never been more acute. Genuine steps should be taken to understand the dynamics of mainstream society and improve their social engagement skills.

From history, we learn that during better times, Muslims proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they went. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their urge for service to their Qawm and their Ummah. This must be replicated and amplified.

Although Muslims are some way away from these ideals, focusing on two key areas can and should strengthen their activities in the towns and cities they have chosen as their home. This is vital to promote a tolerant society and establish civic roots. Indifference and frustration are not a solution.

Muslim individuals and families

  1. Muslims must develop a reading and thinking habit in order to prioritise their tasks in life, including the focus of their activism. They should, according to their ability and available opportunities, endeavour to contribute to the Qawm and Ummah. This should start in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on one’s obligations to their neighbour; one that stands out – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me) – Sahih Al-Bukhari.
  2. They must invest in their new generation and build a future leadership based on ethics and professionalism to confidently interact and engage with the mainstream society, whilst holding firm to Islamic roots and core practices.
  3. Their Islah and dawah should be professionalised, effective and amplified; their outreach should be beyond their tribal/ethnic/sectarian boundaries.
  4. They should jettison any doubts, avoid escapism and focus where and how they can contribute. If they think they can best serve the Ummah’s cause abroad, they should do this by all means. But if they focus on contributing to Britain:
    • They must develop their mindset and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence in an often hostile environment.
    • They should work with indigenous/European Muslims or those who have already gained valuable experience here.
    • They should be better equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in political and media literacy, to address the mainstream media where needed.

Muslim bodies and institutions

  • Muslim bodies and institutions such as mosques have unique responsibilities to bring communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
  • By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should try to make mosques real hubs of social and spiritual life and not just beautiful buildings. They should invest more in young people, particularly those with professional backgrounds. They should not forget what happened to many places where the Muslim presence was thought to be deep-rooted such as Spain.
  • It is appreciated that the first generation Muslims had to establish organisations with people of their own ethnic/geographical backgrounds. While there may still be a need for this for some sections of the community, in a post-7/7 Britain Muslim institutions must open up for others qualitatively and their workers should be able to work with all. History tells that living in your own comfort zone will lead to isolation.
  • Muslim bodies, in their current situation, must have a practical 5-10 year plan, This will bring new blood and change organisational dynamics. Younger, talented, dedicated and confident leadership with deep-rooted Islamic ideals is now desperately needed.
  • Muslim bodies must also have a 5-10 year plan to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs nationally recognised leaders from practising Muslims in areas such as university academia, policy making, politics, print and electronic journalism, etc.

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#Current Affairs

#UnitedForOmar – Imam Omar Suleiman Smeared by Right-Wing News After Opening Prayer at US House of Representatives

Zeba Khan



Sh. Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives yesterday, May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas.

Immediately since, right wing media platforms have begun spreading negative coverage of the Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists as well as criticism of Israel policies.

News outlets citing the criticism have pointed to a post from The Investigative Project on Terrorism or ITP, as the source. The  ITP was founded by and directed by noted Islamophobe Steven Emerson. Emerson’s history of hate speech has been documented for over two decades.

Since then, the story has been carried forward by multiple press outlets.

The immediate consequence of this has been the direction of online hate towards what has been Imam Omar Suleiman’s long history of preaching unity in the US socio-political sphere.

“Since my invocation I’ve been inundated with hate articles, threats, and other tactics of intimidation to silence me over a prayer for unity,” Imam Omar Suleiman says. “These attacks are in bad faith and meant to again send a message to the Muslim community that we are not welcome to assert ourselves in any meaningful space or way.”

MuslimMatters is proud to stand by Imam Omar Suleiman, and we invite our readers to share the evidence that counters the accusations against him of anti-semitism, bigotry, and hate. We would also encourage you to reach out, support, and amplify voices of support like Representative E.B.Johnson, and Representative Colin Allred.

You can help counter the false narrative, simply by sharing evidence of Imam Omar Suleiman’s work. It speaks for itself, and you can share it at the hashtag #UnitedForOmar


A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam Walk Into a Church in Dallas

At an interfaith panel discussion, three North Texas religious leaders promoted understanding and dialogue among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. Source:

Muslim congregation writes letters of support to Dallas Jewish Community

The congregation, led by Imam Omar Suleiman, penned more than 150 cards and letters. source: WFAA News

Historic action: Muslims and Jews for Dreamers

“We must recognize that the white supremacy that threatens the black and Latino communities, is the same white supremacy that spurs Islamophobia and antisemitism,” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Bend The Arc

Through Dialogue, Interfaith Leaders Hope North Texans Will Better Understand Each Other

“When any community is targeted, they need to see a united faith voice — that all communities come together and express complete rejection of anything that would pit our society against one another more than it already is.” -Imam Omar Suleiman

Source: Kera News


Conversations at The Carter Center: Harmonizing Religion and Human Rights 

Source: The Carter Center

Imam: After devastating New Zealand attack, we will not be deterred

My wife and I decided to take our kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community. My 5-year-old played with kids his age while we mourned inside, resisting hate even unknowingly with his innocence…” Source: CNN


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#Current Affairs

From Sri Lanka – The Niqab Ban and The Politics of Distraction

Shaahima Fahim



This article was originally published on Groundviews


As of last Monday, Sri Lanka is taking a seat at the table next to a list of 13 other countries from across the world who have passed legislation banning the niqab or face veil.

Amidst incensed murmurs from certain parliamentarians, and following a discussion with the country’s main Islamic theological body, the All Ceylon Jammiatul Ulema (ACJU), the President’s office has announced that ‘any garment or item which obstructs the identification of a person’s face would be barred.’ Sri Lanka has been under emergency regulations following the Easter Sunday attacks which killed over 250 people. The ban will hold until emergency regulations are lifted.

Ever since the identification of the all-male terrorists behind the massacre as members of militant group ISIS, Muslim women -for some inexplicable reason- were to bear the hardest brunt. Instances of headscarved Muslim women being refused entry at various supermarkets and prominent establishments, was followed by the usual scaremongering via alarmist infographics doing the rounds yet again ‘educating’ the public of the differences between the burqa, hijab, and chador.

A victory indeed for both anti-Muslim voices, as well as to many within the Muslim community seeking to audibly amputate themselves from a supposedly dated form of Islam – one that they claim has no bearing to inherent Sri Lankan Muslim identity.  A view that discards the notion that any religious or ethnic identity is fluid, in flux, and subject to constant evolution.

The grand slam however is primarily for the current political establishment, members of whom are probably high-fiving each other as a result of this kneejerk symbol-politics manoeuvre on having supposedly successfully placated the public of their fears of homegrown terrorism. A move that bleeds hypocrisy for it comes at the cost of subliminally ‘othering’ an already marginalized segment of a minority community, while at the same time PSA’ing for peace and coexistence in this time of crisis.

What is most insulting to the intelligence of our society however, is that amidst all this brouhaha, only few have questioned the actual relevance of this new ban to the current state of our security affairs.

No eye witness report nor CCTV footage showed that any of the suicide bombers from any of the coordinated attacks across the country were on that day wearing the niqab/burqa/chador at the time of inflicting their terror. The men were in fact dressed in men’s attire, with faces completely exposed. It might serve to add here also that they weren’t dressed in traditional Muslim man garb either.

How then did the face veiling Muslim woman get pushed under the bus as the most identifiable sign of radicalism?

It is obvious that the government was cornered into passing this legislation, as was the ACJU too in having to support this move. While all communities have only their praises to sing for the exceptional work of the security forces in tracking down the attackers within only just hours, the country’s elected leadership was in dire need of respite following what many experts claim was a massive intelligence failure, a blunder involving the wrongful identification of a terror suspect, and incompetence in the handling of events overall. A distraction was desperately required. Something needed to give, and it just so happened that the niqab-donning Muslim woman was the easiest scapegoat.

To an outsider unfamiliar with Muslim religious symbolism, the face-veil can come across as alien, even unnerving. And while our first instinct is to otherize in an attempt to help deal with the discomfort of dealing with any unknown, a woman out in the street in a niqab is -for as long as anyone can remember- most certainly not an oddity that has compelled anyone to stop and recite their final rites.

The misguided belief that the face veil is a marker of extremism isn’t and hasn’t ever been based on any empirical research. If studies were to be carried out, results would show that Muslim women in general -let alone those with a face cover- have a little role to play, if any, for acts of terror committed in all the countries that have banned them.

Contrarily, there is a clear proven relationship between terrorist attacks and increases in recorded Islamophobic incidents against Muslims, with women being disproportionately targeted. One can then dare infer that being visibly Muslim carries a greater risk to oneself, than to the people around them.

The niqab ban has been put in place as a security measure they say – a flexing of muscles towards any semblance of radicalization that will deter any future acts of terror in the country. Naturally, the perpetuating of this ideological hegemony is doing Muslim women no favors. If anything, the ban is a wholly counterproductive one, in that it ostracizes an already marginalized segment of a minority community – a sliver of a percentage out of the 10% that is the country’s Muslim population.

If -as commonly believed- veiled Muslim women are being hopelessly persecuted, the ban will serve only to increasingly confine these women to their homes, under the control of the men accused of governing their lives, and further disconnected from being able to assimilate with society. Even more dangerous, there are studies which prove that having to live in an environment that is aggressively policed on the basis of belief is more likely to harbour radicalization.

Absurdity of the non-connection of the attacks with the niqab ban aside, this in itself should be a war cry for secular feminists advocating for everyone’s basic right to the civil freedoms of a liberal society. Where now are the proponents and ambassadors so wholly soaked in the ‘Muslim woman saviour complex?’ A segment of Muslim women has been forbidden from wearing what they feel best represents their Sri Lankan Muslim identity. They were not consulted before this legislation was passed, nor were they given the chance to show their willingness to cooperate on instances where identification was required.

Ludicrously, discourses surrounding veiled Muslim women are paradoxically lobbed back and forth according to the convenience of the times. In times of world peace, they are oppressed and subservient to patriarchal whims and fancies, while in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack there are hostile and threatening, capable of devising all kinds of evil. They are either victims of violence or the perpetrators of it.

This age-old preoccupation with Muslim women’s attire is in actuality a gross conflation of conservatism with extremism. In claiming that a strip of cloth holds the answer to combatting a severe global threat is trivialising the greater issues at hand. If there was a direct correlation between the attacks and veiled individuals, legislation forbidding the covering of the face in public would be wholly justified. But there is none.

Muslim women shouldn’t be faulted for the cracks in the state’s china. In not being able to answer the hard questions of accountability, lapses in acting on available intelligence, and general good governance, those at the top should leave well alone and consider hiding their faces instead.

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