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THE PERSECUTION OF MY FRIEND: Imam Dr. Mohammad Qatanani

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    THE PERSECUTION OF MY FRIEND: Imam Dr. Mohammad Qatanani THE PEACE AND JUSTICE FOUNDATION Rabi Al-Thaani 1429 Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace) A
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2008
      THE PERSECUTION OF MY FRIEND: Imam Dr. Mohammad Qatanani

      Rabi Al-Thaani 1429

      Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace)
      "A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety
      of evils… It gives to ambitious, corrupted or deluded citizens (who
      devote themselves to the favorite nation) the facility to betray or
      sacrifice the interest of their own country without odium, sometimes
      even with popularity." – President George Washington

      On Thursday (May 8), Friday (May 9), and Monday (May 12), a special
      initiative is going to be held at a federal courthouse in New Jersey
      for a very special brother in Islam and leader in the New Jersey faith
      community – Imam Dr. Mohammad Qatanani. I am scheduled to be in
      Chicago for speaking engagements during this period, but a part of me
      will be with my friend, his family, and the community he leads.
      Imam Qatanani, a religious scholar and soft-spoken native of Occupied
      Palestine, came to the United States with his wife and three young
      children in 1996, with the hope of realizing the American dream. Over
      the years the Qatananis were blessed with three more American born
      children, as they laid family and community roots in the city of
      Paterson, New Jersey.

      Now, in the words of his many supporters, "After nearly 13 years as an
      extraordinary voice of tolerance and compassion serving the wider
      community in Northern New Jersey, Imam Dr. Mohamad Qatanani, the
      spiritual leader of the largest Islamic Center in New Jersey – the
      Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC), faces the unjust prospect of
      deportation from the land of liberty and justice for all, the land
      that he and his family have grown to love."

      How the persecution began

      In July of 2006, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied
      the family's adjustment of status application and the Imam and his
      family were put into removal proceedings. The basis for the denial was
      a detention of the Imam in 1993, by Israeli authorities, when he
      journeyed from his home in Jordan to visit his family in the West
      Bank. Mass detention for Palestinians was (and still is) a common

      On his immigration application the Imam and his attorneys answered
      "No" when asked if he was ever arrested. Imam Qatanani and his
      experienced attorneys believed that he was "detained" and not
      "arrested," because he was never charged with any crime, never faced a
      civilian or military judge, and ultimately was unconditionally
      released after 3 months without any word of why he was detained in the
      first place.

      It should also be noted that the Imam responded in a legally justified
      manner to the issue of arrest or detention, and that he has been
      forthright with government officials during interviews and discussions
      regarding his period of detention. Primarily based on this innocuous
      episode that occurred over thirteen years ago, the application for
      permanent residency for the Imam, his wife and his three oldest
      children has been placed in limbo. This uncertain status has caused a
      measure of anxiety and untold hardships for the family.

      Case in point: the driving privileges of both the Imam and his wife,
      Somaia, were revoked for the past three years. Sr. Somaia, a school
      teacher, has faced the daily quandary of not being able to drive
      herself and her children to school. On at least two occasions during
      this period, the family has been faced with the scary situation of
      children falling ill late at night, and with no access to
      transportation, having to suffer the indignity of literally walking to
      the nearest hospital in the darkness of the night.

      Imam Qatanani's contribution to the community

      Imam Mohammad Qatanani's inspired leadership is credited with the

      1. Youth programs, weekend school classes, nightly community
      gatherings, summer picnics, and an assortment of other community
      festivities which unite the community with the message of hope and peace.
      2. Annual voter registration drives.
      3. In-house round table discussions with political leaders including
      several Governors, US Senators, Congressman, State Senate and Assembly
      Representatives, Mayors and Municipal Council Officials.
      4. Human relief efforts comprised of food and fund drives for the
      victims of 9/11, the 2004 Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
      5. Local Health fairs and blood drives.
      6. Diversified congregation with comprehensive interpretation and
      translation services.
      7. Programs that strengthen familial bonds and increase families'
      engagement with the community.

      8. Extensive work in the area of interfaith dialogue and cooperation.
      It was these strong relationships within the community-at-large that
      enabled diverse communities – in the northern New Jersey area - to
      comfort each other after the tragic attacks of September 11. The Imam
      was one of the first Muslim leaders to condemn the attacks,
      specifically, and all violence against humanity in general. The Imam's
      community welcomed FBI officials to ICPC to open channels of
      communication, tolerance and security. These efforts were recognized
      state-wide when he was called upon to open the NJ State Senate with a
      recitation and prayer for peace and humanity.

      What others have said about Imam Qatanani

      "Fostering dialogue, understanding and trust between Muslims,
      Christians and Jews is critical for our nation and the world. In this
      cause here in New Jersey, Dr. Mohammad Qatanani, the Imam of the
      Islamic Center of Passaic County, has been a tireless champion. Now
      our federal government is seeking to deport him along with his wife
      and six children. With the billions our government spends now on
      homeland security, how could they get it so wrong?" – Rev. Bill
      Potter, Priest of St. Like Episcopalian Church (Hope, NJ)

      "Imam Qatanani is an asset to our society and culture, as he models
      and preaches values consistent with the American ideal." – Rabbi David
      Senter, Congregation Beth Shalom (Pompton Lakes)

      "I've seen with my own eyes a gentleman who's had a tremendous
      positive influence in the community… He's done nothing but good since
      he's been in the U.S., and many of us are ready to stand up and go to
      court to testify about him if need be." – U.S. Representative Bill
      Pascrell (Congressman for NJ)

      Some closing thoughts

      I have had the pleasure of knowing Imam Qatanani for several years
      now, and I value him as one of my dearest friends. We were first
      introduced at a large Palestine-related demonstration in New York
      City. The delegation from ICPC was impressed with what I had to say
      about the never ending Middle East crisis, and I was invited to visit
      the center and share some thoughts with the community.

      I'll never forget my first impression of ICPC. When I saw how large
      and organized the community was, I kidded my brothers and sisters at
      the center with the following words: If I were a betting man, I would
      wager all I had that this center is under intense surveillance.
      About a month later I visited the center again, on my way to New York
      for a jumah (Friday prayer service). On that visit I passed out
      printed information on some issue that my organization was working on
      at the time. A few days later I received a visit at my home from the
      FBI. Before the visit with my guests ended, I asked them how it was
      that I came to their attention. Their response was that I had visited
      "the mosque in Patterson, NJ." Upon hearing this I just shook my head
      and smiled. (My instincts were correct.)

      Truth be told, the Islamic Center of Passaic County has been under
      uninterrupted surveillance, and the Qatanani family (among others)
      have been trapped in an immigration quagmire, for one reason and one
      reason only – the State of Israel and the so-called "war on
      terrorism." (A twin monstrosity joined at the hip.)

      When leaders like Rev. Bill Potter reference the billions of dollars
      going into "homeland security," and then raise the question of "how
      could they get it so wrong?" – the truth is, the powers-that-be know
      exactly what they are doing! The government's persecution of the
      Qatananis is nothing more than deliberate policy designed to frighten,
      silence, and destabilize the Muslim community (esp. Palestinians) and
      their leadership!

      In our latest book, The Palestinians' Holocaust: American Perspectives
      (pg 72), we cite an April 1, 2007 address that Speaker Nancy Pelosi
      delivered before the Israeli Knesset. In her speech she noted,
      "Israeli expertise and technology are helping protect cities and
      airports across America."

      Our special relationship with Israel, and the impact that this
      relationship has had on domestic and foreign policy, is at the very
      heart of so many cases that have shaken the very foundations of
      American democracy.

      While the government makes the argument that the "war on terrorism" is
      not a war against Islam and Muslims, a myriad of cases and issues –
      i.e. Dr. Sami Al-Arian, Mohammad Salah and Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar, the
      Holy Land Foundation, etc., immigration cases like that Imam Dr.
      Mohammad Qatanani, and oppressive U.S. foreign policy overseas –
      prove otherwise (for the average Muslim in the street)!

      I pray that people of good will (both Muslim and non-Muslim) in the
      New Jersey-New York area, who are in a position to do so, will support
      the upcoming May 8-12th initiatives, and become permanently active in
      the campaign for justice for Imam Dr. Mohammad Qatanani and his
      family. The community as a whole will benefit from such an effort!

      Yours in the struggle for peace thru justice,

      El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
      The Peace And Justice Foundation


      -Free buses will be leaving from ICPC at 8 am. For other locations,
      please consult with your local mosque to see if they will provide busing.
      -The address is 970 Broad Street, Newark, NJ. (Few minutes walking
      from Newark Penn Station.)
      -Friday prayer will be held at the rally. Guestspeaker: Imam Siraj Wahhaj
      -Wear your A4Q white t-shirts or purchase them on site.

      Thursday, May 8th: Rally until 1 pm

      Friday, May 9th: Rally all day- Jummah (Friday) prayer will be on site

      Monday, May 12th: Rally until 1 pm

      Please go to www.americans4qatanani.com for additional information on
      this case, and how YOU can become involved.



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