In a room overflowing with supporters during the Freedom Dinner for incarcerated Northern Virginia youth Ahmed Abu Ali on Saturday, March 3, 2012, Mariam Abu Ali, shared a piece of wisdom from our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): “A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he does not oppress him, nor does he fail him. If anyone fulfills his brother’s needs, Allah will fulfill his needs; if one relieves a Muslim of his troubles, Allah will relieve his troubles on the Day of Resurrection.”
Ahmed Abu Ali is our American Muslim brother who still spends everyday unjustly locked up in perpetual solitary confinement. Over one hundred community members came together to support Ahmed’s struggle for freedom, and return him to his rightful place in our community.
The evening began with a short video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5S4PwvhgHZ4), explaining what happened to Ahmed, starting in 2003, when at 22 years old, he was arrested, tortured, and held in prison for 2 years with no charges against him. After the film was screened, Ahmed’s sister, Mariam, shared her experiences about how the detention and persecution of Ahmed has tormented her family, and set a disturbing precedent for our entire American Muslim community. Referring to the recent passage into law of the National Defense Authorization Act, Mariam explained, “When this happened to Ahmed it was against the law. His case was an anomaly. Now it has been codified into law.”
Ali Sadiqi, one of Ahmed Abu Ali’s attorneys, explained the dangerous precedent that Ahmed’s case set that tortured confessions obtained during proxy detention detention can be used to convict Americans in US courts. He spoke about the many illegal and unconstitutional violations throughout the proceedings, which under any other circumstances would have resulted in a mistrial. He also mentioned the Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), which Ahmed is currently subject to, making it illegal for his immediate family and attorneys to share details about his condition, case, or overall well-being. This gag order hides the plight of Ahmed from the eyes of the public, keeping the government’s mistreatments secret. Sadiqi explained that the defense team is working to seek justice for Ahmed through the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which he hopes will result in a grant of a new trial--Ahmed’s last chance at justice after nearly nine years of unjust imprisonment. Sadiqi emphasized that a victory for Ahmed will be a victory for all Americans.
Other speakers from the night emphasized our moral responsibility in this struggle to stand up and speak for Ahmed, especially during this time in which he is prohibited under SAMs from speaking for himself. They encouraged those in attendance to spread the word and encourage friends who weren’t able to make it to donate so that Ahmed’s attorneys can launch a defense strong enough to achieve success by the will of God.
Throughout the evening, the sense of solidarity to come together in these difficult times resonated of struggles and victories from the past. Faced with a challenge that we did not sign up for, today, we American Muslims are on the frontlines struggling to restore the rights promised in the United States Constitution. Everyone understood that now it is Ahmed, but it could have been anyone else; and if we do not stand up for ourselves no one else will. The struggle has been difficult, and it will not get easier in silence. The best encouragement to continue comes from the Holy Quran, a clip shared on Saturday of a beautiful recitation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQfw0bkEvrc&context=C3cd9355ADOEgsToPDskJojU2nz6sTPo6ZW2FiKdM_) from Ahmed himself, back from when he had a voice: “And We will surely test you until We make evident those who strive among you [for the cause of Allah ] and the patient, and We will test your affairs. … So do not weaken … Allah is with you and will never deprive you of [the reward of] your deeds” (47:31-8).
To learn more about Ahmed Abu Ali’s case, visit www.freeahmed.com or search for “ahmed abu ali” (using the exact phrase) on www.muslimlinkpaper.com.