Charlotte Kates, The Electronic Intifada, 4 April 2007
Dr. Sami Al-Arian, Palestinian political prisoner, is being held in a prison hospital, after a debilitating 60-day hunger strike seeking to draw the attention of the nation and the world to the injustice visited upon him, jailed for his commitment to justice and dignity for his homeland. This is not a scene from an Israeli jail, however, but from a U.S. prison in North Carolina. Al-Arian's hunger strike ended at the pleas of his family -- yet without justice for Al-Arian, whose imprisonment is part and parcel of a U.S. government policy of targeting Palestinian activists, as well as the broader Arab, Muslim and South Asian communities, in an internal "war of terror" whose policies run parallel to that being waged abroad.
The case of Sami Al-Arian is a story of persecution, perseverance, and, ultimately, the determination of those in power to criminalize resistance and punish Palestinian activism, subverting not only the principles of justice but also their own criminal justice system in order to do so. Sami Al-Arian, 49, is a Palestinian refugee who has lived in the United States for over thirty years and has, for the last decade, alongside his prominent role as an activist and leader in the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities in the Tampa Bay, Florida area and nationally, his work as a professor of computer science at the University of South Florida, and his personal life as a husband and father to five children, waged a prominent battle to protect fundamental rights within the U.S. from an assault through secret evidence, racist detention policies, and an all-out assault on community organizing and solidarity work within targeted communities. Al-Arian has lived with over a dozen years of surveillance, and eight years of FBI agents shadowing his movements. Today, he is imprisoned, despite the fact that he was convicted of nothing by a jury, despite a parade of witnesses and years of harassment.
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