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Protesters Demand “Free Rabih Haddad!”

Over 300 came out to two protests to demand that the federal government free Rabih Haddad, the nation’s most prominent Arab and Muslim “detainee.” Rabih has been imprisoned since December 14th without charges, without any evidence produced against him, denied bail, and his court hearings closed to the public, including his family. (article 5)
Over 300 came out to two protests Friday and Saturday nights in Bridgeview and Chicago to demand that the federal government free Rabih Haddad, the nation’s most prominent Arab and Muslim “detainee.” In February, US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald admitted that neither Haddad nor the organization he co-founded, Global Relief Foundation (GRF), were targets of criminal investigations. Yet he remains imprisoned since December 14th without charges, without any evidence produced against him, denied bail, and his court hearings closed to the public, including his family.

Due to these multiple violations of the Bill of Rights, Haddad’s case has become a lightning rod for protests by civil rights advocates led by the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism (CCAWR), the Ann Arbor Ad Hoc Committee for Peace and the Committee to Free Rabih Haddad. Thanks to these protests, Haddad has been released from solitary confinement and his visitation rights have improved considerably.

But just as things appeared to be getting better, the government recently hit back by invoking the USA/Patriot Act to try to introduce “secret evidence” against GRF, the first time the bill has been used in this way. Activists point to many cases of previous use of “secret evidence” against individuals, “evidence” which fell apart when its contents were exposed, which is probably the reason the government wants it kept secret in the first place.

Friday and Saturday nights’ protests were a highpoint of a series of Rabih Haddad actions organized by CCAWR and supported by many other groups. Saturday night’s protest was endorsed by over 40 organizations who contributed to CCAWR’s scholarship fund to send activists to protests in Washington on April 20-22. The April 20th protest represents the coming together of all the major anti-war coalitions in the country, actions against the US-sponsored war in Colombia continue on April 21 and 22, and the series of protests culminate in a very focused, April 22nd demonstration against the visit of Israel’s Prime Minister Arial Sharon to Washington.

CCAWR is strongly encouraging everyone to “get on the bus” to the DC protests. Bus tickets are available for $65 to attend the April 20th protest only, and $85 for the whole weekend’s worth of protests. For more information on the buses to Washington, please call the 8th Day Center for Justice at 312.641.5151 (ask for Dorothy or Kathy).

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Photo captions:
1) Mazen Haddad, brother of Rabih Haddad, addresses the crowd Saturday night. Mazen traveled from Toronto to keynote the rallies.

2) The other keynote speaker, Dr. Sami al-Arian, a tenured University of South Florida professor who was fired from his job for speaking out in favor of Palestinian rights.

3) Marisol Morales of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

4) Mahmud Ahmad of the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism and the Committee for a Democratic Palestine.

5) Syed Shakeel Kazmi, President of the Mohammedan Muthida Minority Movement, an organization protesting the pogroms against the Muslim minority in India which have killed over 1000 in recent weeks.

6) Chris Geovanis, emcee for the Saturday rally (Cliff Kelley emceed the Friday rally), member of the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism, Chicago Indy Media, and Women in Black.

7) Phillis Engelbert, Ann Arbor Ad Hoc Committee for Peace, and Mazen Haddad.
 
 

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