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Massachusetts Imam Persecuted

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    Muslim American Society of Boston (MAS Boston) Holds Press Conference to Challenge Witch Hunt Against Muslim Community Leadership July 25, 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25, 2007
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      Muslim American Society of Boston (MAS Boston) Holds Press Conference
      to Challenge Witch Hunt Against Muslim Community Leadership
      July 25, 2007
      http://www.masboston.org/index.php?section=128


      MAS Boston held a press conference yesterday at the Moakley Federal
      Courthouse in Boston to express shock and dismay at the government's
      actions against Imam Masood and other leaders from the Muslim
      community. Speaking at this press conference were the Arab-American
      Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union
      (ACLU), Rabbi Barry Starr from Temple Israel in Sharon, Imam Abdullah
      Faaruuq from the Mosque for the Praising of Allah in Roxbury. The
      court room was packed beyond capacity and a crowd of over 45
      supporters from the Muslim and other communities had gathered to
      support the Imam at the hearing on just a few hours notice. All of the
      Imams from the Greater Boston area also came in support. The Press
      conference was covered by the NPR and the Boston Globe, both of which
      gave good coverage to the story today.

      Our concern revolves around the fact that last Thursday, the US
      Attorney's Office, interrogated Imam Masood for six hours during which
      he was threatened with jail, "humiliation" and abandonment from the
      community, unless he "cooperated." Cooperation included answering
      questions about various respected mainstream leaders and organizations
      in the Boston Muslim community, many of whom are involved in a monthly
      dialogue project with law enforcement agencies called BRIDGES
      (Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity). The goal
      of the questioning was apparently to seek incriminating information
      against community leaders even though it does not exist. The Imam did
      not have information which the US Attorney's office was apparently
      hoping for. He was then informed that he would be criminally charged
      in two days.

      At the hearing, Imam Masood was charged with a criminal complaint for
      charges similar to what the Imam is already facing in immigration
      court. The government alleges that Imam Masood misrepresented himself
      to federal agents during the immigration process with respect to
      whether he fulfilled the requirement of going back to Pakistan for 2
      years between his J-visa and R-visa, whether he received state
      benefits, and other such details. There is no charge even remotely
      related to security or terror even though the case is being pursued by
      the US Attorney's anti-terrorism unit. The judge mentioned the maximum
      penalty as 10 years imprisonment and $250,000 of fines. Imam Masood
      was released on $10,000 unsecured bond, meaning he did not have to pay
      yesterday to be released.

      We maintain that the transferring this matter from immigration
      proceedings to criminal charges is punitive and vindictive on the part
      of the government and is apparently a tactic to intimidate Imam Masood
      into yield incriminating information about the Boston Muslim
      communities' leaders even though such information does not exist. This
      is a tremendous waste of taxpayer money and resources and takes
      attention away from pursuing real threats to security.

      Furthermore, this irresponsible action deals a strong blow to two
      years of efforts in the unique BRIDGES initiative, which brought
      together Muslim, Arab and Sikh community leadership into dialogue with
      law enforcement agencies of Greater Boston. The purpose of these
      meetings was to establish a forum in which both parties can discuss
      relevant concerns in an atmosphere of transparency and mutual trust,
      and achieve a concerted effort towards security. Building this forum
      took a lot of effort from both sides and the Muslim and Arab
      communities remain committed to the idea of such forums.

      The BRIDGES forum allowed every opportunity to discuss with leaders of
      the community any concerns or fears and also provided an open
      invitation to mosques and any meetings with community members.
      However, the US Attorney's Office has chosen to harass a leader in the
      Muslim community and apparently indulge in an expensive,
      community-wide witch hunt that will not result in uncovering real
      threats to security.


      LINK to BOSTON GLOBE ARTICLE:
      http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/07/24/mosque_leader_accused_of_immigration_fraud/

      PLEASE DONATE TO HELP TOWARDS IMAM MASOOD's SITUATION:
      http://www.masboston.org/donations.php?fund=Civil%20Rights%20Defense%20Fund


      ESCALATION OF IMAM MASOOD'S CASE

      Major Setback in Muslim-Law Enforcement Relations
      Reckless Witch Hunt Against Muslim And Arab Community Destroys Two
      Years of Progress in a Unique Trust Building Initiative with
      Law-Enforcement

      Boston, MA – July 23, 2007

      US Attorney's Office intimidates Muslim Leader in a seeming attempt to
      incriminate various leaders and organizations in the Muslim community
      Two years of progress in a unique trust-building initiative between
      Muslim Community and Law Enforcement destroyed Imam Masood to be
      charged today with a criminal complaint that has nothing to do with
      terror or securityMuslim Community outraged and in full support of
      Imam Masood

      In an extremely disappointing and shocking development that destroys a
      unique, two-year, trust-building initiative between law enforcement
      and Boston Muslim, Arab and Sikh communities, the US Attorney's office
      has tried to intimidate a deeply-respected Boston Muslim leader, Imam
      Masood, into giving or manufacturing incriminating information about
      several mainstream Boston Muslim leaders and organizations.

      Imam Masood has been an active and upstanding member of the Sharon
      community for over a decade. He has a wife and eight children, three
      of whom are US citizens. He has always stood for peace, interfaith
      cooperation and civic engagement. He is a strong proponent of
      interfaith dialogue and enjoys much support from the broader Sharon
      clergy. Imam Masood was thus far being prosecuted on minor immigration
      technicalities.

      Last Thursday, the US Attorney's Office, interrogated Imam Masood for
      six hours during which he was threatened with jail, "humiliation" and
      abandonment from the community, unless he "cooperated." Cooperation
      entailed answering questions about many well respected mainstream
      leaders and organizations in the Boston Muslim community, many of whom
      are involved in a monthly dialogue project with law enforcement
      agencies called BRIDGES (Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance
      Sensitivity). This fishing expedition is an apparent witch hunt to
      seek or manufacture any sort of incriminating information against
      community leaders. The Imam did not have information which the US
      Attorney's office was apparently hoping for. Consequently he was
      informed that he will be indicted and that he will stand Monday July
      23rd at the U.S. District Court 1 Courthouse Way, Courtroom 24, 7th
      Floor at 2:30 pm to be charged with a criminal complaint.

      Among the potential charges are minor civic infractions involving car
      registration violation, an error on a health insurance application and
      an alleged minor discrepancy on a previous visa. This is a tremendous
      waste of taxpayer money and resources and takes attention away from
      pursuing real threats to security.

      Furthermore, this irresponsible action deals a strong blow to two
      years of efforts in the unique BRIDGES initiative, which brought
      together Muslim, Arab and Sikh community leadership into dialogue with
      law enforcement agencies of Greater Boston. The purpose of these
      meetings was to establish a forum in which both parties can discuss
      relevant concerns in an atmosphere of transparency and mutual trust,
      and achieve a concerted effort towards security. Building this forum
      took a lot of effort from both sides and the Muslim and Arab
      communities remain committed to the idea of such forums.

      The BRIDGES forum allowed every opportunity to discuss with leaders of
      the community any concerns or fears and also provided an open
      invitation to mosques and any meetings with community members.
      However, the US Attorney's Office has chosen to harass a leader in the
      Muslim community and indulge in an expensive, community-wide witch
      hunt that will not result in uncovering real threats to security.

      The Muslim American Society (MAS Boston), the American Arab
      Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC-MA), and the Islamic Council of New
      England will be available for statements at 1 Courthouse Way after the
      indictment hearing of Imam Masood at 2:30pm on Monday July 23rd.


      Please donate towards his situation at:

      http://www.masboston.org/donations.php?fund=Civil%20Rights%20Defense%20Fund

      *********************************************************************

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