Free Jamil Al-Amin
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
The struggle for the freedom and liberty of Atlanta Muslim leader Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin must take place now, before the cold fingers of the state can close around his neck.
Imam Jamil has already received what can only be called a biased and prejudicial press, which has sought to depict him as a dangerous, violent radical. In every substantive news report there has been coverage of his brief membership in the Black Panther Party, but there has been little reportage of his other associations, and much less of his life as a Muslim Imam, who worked as an anti-drug activist and for the betterment of the entire community.
Imam Jamil's political life didn't begin with the Black Panther Party. Indeed, accounts written by leading Panthers, like Huey P. Newton or Elaine Brown, relate that Jamil, Kwame Ture (the late Stokely Carmichael) and James Forman were "drafted" into the BPP, a "drafting" that was sabotaged by the FBI, and which lasted but a few months.
Imam Jamil spent most of his political life as a field director and activist of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), before his later religious conversion.
But if you are the media, which is more "juicy," a six-month-long dalliance with the Black Panthers, or a six-year period with SNCC? Which is more representative of his radical youth? Which is the longest? Which is the most prejudicial?
Imam Jamil, in addition to being a spiritual leader, was a businessman, who owned a local store. This is hardly the profile projected by the national press.
After his arrest a year ago in connection with the shootings of two Atlanta sheriff's deputies, initial police reports strongly suggested the Imam is innocent of the charges. The surviving deputy told police investigators that his assailant was shotAl-Amin, upon his apprehension, was not wounded.
Another police witness reported that the suspect had grey eyesAl-Amin's eyes are a dark brown.
At the time of this writing, the jury is being selected in a murder trial. This is especially troubling in light of the recent World Trade Center plane-bombings, as it has unleashed a national flurry of hatred against many in the Islamic community. When fear and hatred enter the mind, logic rarely lingers.
That said, Al-Amin's freedom lies in people who express their support now, instead of later. Fairness does not lie in reversing an unjust conviction; rather it lies in preventing one in the first place.
Imam Jamil has lived a good and rich life in service to his spiritual and ethnic community. He richly deserves the fullest support in all efforts leading to his freedom, so that he may return to the community.
Free Imam Jamil!
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