ANSWER Statement on Dr. Sami Al-Arian's arrest

John M Cox coxj at email.unc.edu
Fri Feb 21 04:57:27 MST 2003



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 23:15:57 -0500

STOP BUSH & ASHCROFT'S POLITICAL TARGETING!

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition statement on the arrest of Florida
Professor Sami Al-Arian

Early this morning, Thursday, February 20, 2003, FBI
agents in Tampa, Florida, arrested Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a
Palestinian professor from the University of South Florida
(USF). As he was led into the Tampa headquarters of the
FBI, Al-Arian told reporters: "It's all about politics."

Dr. Al-Arian has gained widespread support over the last
year and a half after being placed on forced leave and
banned from the USF campus shortly after September 11.
Almost one year ago, on February 21, 2002, the United
States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Mac
Cauley, issued a statement acknowledging that Dr. Al-Arian
was under investigation.

Today and for many years, Samia Al-Arian has been targeted
by the government, media and academic establishment
because he is a consistent and outspoken supporter of the
right of the Palestinian people to live free from
occupation, as well as a proponent of civil liberties and
civil rights.

Dr. Al-Arian is among several others arrested by the FBI
today; there were other arrests in Florida and Illinois.
They are among thousands of people of Middle Eastern
decent and other immigrants who have been investigated,
arrested, interrogated, detained and/or deported since
September 11.

Following Attorney General John Ashcroft's announcement of
the 100-count indictment that charges these men with
allegedly "financing, extolling and assisting acts of
terrorism," Dr. Al-Arian's attorney, Nicholas Matassini,
stated: "He's a political prisoner right now as we speak."
Matassini called Ashcroft's indictment "a work of
fiction."

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON SAMIA AL-ARIAN

Shortly after September 11, 2001, Dr. Al-Arian appeared on
the fervently right-wing Fox TV's Bill O'Reilly Factor
show, where O'Reilly accused him of having "terrorist
connections." According to a document produced by USF
faculty entitled "The United Faculty of Florida defends
the Due Process rights, and Academic Freedom & Tenure
rights of USF Professor Sami Al-Arian," on September 27,
the USF administration suspended Dr. Al-Arian, and on
December 19 they sent him a letter of dismissal, then
modified this letter to state that he "wasn't fired so
much as subject to being fired."

Since that time, Dr. Al-Arian and many supporters around
the country have been fighting to be reinstated at USF. On
April 25, 2002, the Executive Council and Delegate
Assembly of the Professional Staff Congress of the City
University of New York, American Federation of Teachers
Local 2334, passed a resolution in support of Dr.
Al-Arian, and on June 20, 2002, American Federation of
Teachers President Sandra Feldman sent a letter to USF
President Judy Genshaft in supporting his rights.

On December 16, 2002, a federal district court judge
dismissed a case brought by USF which asked the court to
clarify the constitutional issues surrounding the firing.
USF brought the case in an attempt to bolster support and
confidence in proceeding with the firing, but the court
dismissed the case and left it to the USF administration
to either fire or reinstate Dr. Al-Arian. USF President
Genshaft said her plan was the former.

According to the Academic Free Speech website, which is
devoted supporting Dr. Al-Arian in his struggle to resume
teaching at USF, Dr. Sami Al-Arian's family is from
Jerusalem and Jaffa, Palestine. He was born in Kuwait,
lived in Egypt, and then studied at Southern Illinois
University and North Carolina State University. He became
a professor at USF in 1986, has received tenure, several
teaching awards, and has over forty published works.

Dr. Al-Arian has helped to establish several
organizations, including the Islamic Society of North
America (ISNA, est. 1981) and many affiliated
organizations. In 1990, he co-founded the World and Islam
Studies Enterprise (WISE), a research and academic
institution. In 1997, Dr. Al-Arian helped to found the
Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace, which has
fought against the arrest, imprisonment and deportation of
Dr. Mazen Al-Najjar; and in the same year co-founded the
National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, which he
was elected the president of in 2000. Dr. Al-Najjar is Dr.
Al-Arian's brother-in-law, who in 2002 was deported after
being held in U.S. jails without charges for nearly five
years using "secret evidence."

The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition joins the organizations and
individuals worldwide who are condemning Bush's and
Ashcroft's political targeting of Dr. Al-Arian.

---------------------------------------

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