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Another White House Iftar, Another Ramadan Without My Brother

Obama

Another White House Iftar, Another Ramadan Without My Brother

By Mariam Abu-Ali

As many Muslims sit down tonight to break their Ramadan fast at the annual White House iftar, a tradition started by President Bill Clinton, I am thinking about my brother Ahmed spending his 11th Ramadan away from my family.

President Obama, just as he has done every year since coming to office, will probably include in his remarks stories of successful Muslims making significant contributions to American society, attempting to show how interwoven Muslims are in the fabric of this country. What he won’t mention, and what most in the room would rather not think about, is the growing number of Muslims who are victims of the U.S government’s ruthless persecution of Muslims that includes spying, torture, and unfair trials.

I believe that my brother is one such victim. In June 2003 Ahmed Abu-Ali, a U.S citizen, was detained by intelligence officers in Saudi Arabia while studying at the University of Madinah. He was only 22. The Saudi government, apparently at the behest of the U.S government, detained him without charges for nearly two years. Ahmed was then brought home and charged with conspiracy to assassinate then-President George W. Bush. The only evidence admitted in court was a videotape of a confession obtained in a Saudi Arabian prison — a confession that my brother maintained was coerced through torture. He was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to 30 years (and later life) in prison. My brother will serve life in perpetual solitary confinement for an alleged crime that the judge himself stated “did not result in a single actual victim.”

Ahmed said in his second sentencing hearing in July 2009:

This case was manufactured by the Saudi torture machine, the Mubahith, and exported to the United States. There is no doubt that I was tortured. This case was prosecuted by a rogue Department of Justice, headed by the same people who crafted laws [allowing torture]. Had this case been a drug case or a murder case, it would have been forgotten. But if you introduce the word “terrorism” in it, America has a second standard.

The “War on Terror” may have started during the Bush administration, but it has continued to expand under the Obama administration. Many more families are like mine, suffering without their fathers, brothers, and sons. American Muslims are being spied on, systemically targeted, and imprisoned. Muslims in Guantanamo and other black sites have suffered torture. Muslims and American Muslims are being targeted and killed by drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

The White House iftar is a slap in the face to those in the Muslim community who have been victims of U.S. civil-rights and human-rights abuses. It is an attempt by administration after administration to whitewash the crimes of the U.S. government against Muslims by painting a less-than-accurate picture of their relationship with the American Muslim community. Year after year Muslims attend the iftar, arguing that this is a way to engage policy makers in an attempt to effectuate real change. Yet year after year more and more egregious violations of Muslims’ human and civil rights are uncovered. For our American Muslim leadership to not address our government’s civil-rights and human-rights abuses is a disservice not only to the community they claim to represent but to their country as well.

I believe my family is one of many victims of this injustice that pervades our current counterterrorism policy and criminal-justice system. Victims like us will never get invited to the White House to tell our story. I can only hope that there will be those invitees who refuse to exonerate the cruelty of such policies and make a statement to that effect when declining to attend. In his remarks at last year’s iftar, President Obama said that Ramadan is “a time for family and friends to come together … in a spirit of love and respect….” There are many families like mine who would have liked to be in the room just to ask, “Then why has the United States deprived us of enjoying Ramadan with our loved ones?”

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5 Comments »

  1. Outrageous. Is it fair to ask what kind of legal measures have been taken by family and supporters on behalf of Mariam Abu-Ali’s brother and if/how her family is continuing to work for his release? Surely they haven’t just given up! Several very important factors appear to be to be missing from this story. Surely the ACLU would be interested in exploring the matter of a young man having been tried and convicted on something so groundless as a confession coerced under torture. I want to know more.

  2. Tariq Ramadan (official)

    IFTAR AT THE WHITE HOUSE

    It was supposed to be an evening where the American President showed respect to a religious community, to the millions of American Muslims who have been fasting during the sacred month of Ramadan.

    It was supposed to be a political expression of respect. It ended up being a political instrumentalisation of (voluntarily) trapped Muslim leaders listening to President Obama justify the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians, declaring Israel has the right to defend itself. One wonders what is the relationship between the Iftar celebration and Israel ? What is the US administration’s implicit-explicit intention in putting the Muslim leaders in such an embarrassing situation? To test their loyalty or rather their capacity to compromise or betray? They obviously remained silent.

    The Israeli ambassador, Mr. Ron Dermer, also invited (why?), was actually the first to speak. One must remember what he said about Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims : Palestinians have “a cultural tendency towards belligerency” that is “deeply embedded in the culture of the Arab world and its foremost religion”. This is the man who was invited to celebrate Iftar with the Muslims meanwhile his Government is destroying Gaza. From the White House he tweeted, triumphantly : “@WhiteHouse for Iftar dinner. Appreciate strong statement there by President Obama about Israel’s right to defend itself.”

    Obviously Muslim leaders didn’t tweet. It was enough of an honor for them to be invited to the White House and to have met the President. An honor, truly, dear Muslim leaders? Ordinary Muslims (and proponents of justice and dignity from other religions) in the US and around the world, as well as Palestinians, might think differently.

  3. LET US BE VERY CLEAR – ALL THOSE WHO SUPPORT AND OR AGREES WITH ISLAM (Hamas Al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Taliban) ARE GIVING AID AND COMFORT TO THE ENEMY’S IDEOLOGY – ARE COLLABORATING WITH THE ISLAMIC ENEMY AND ARE GUILITY OF TREASON.

    Can 1.3 billion people be wrong? Yes…. Islam Lies – Islam is an obscenity

    They start accumulating in countries and then start terrorizing it with gangs of rapists, violence and civil disruption. They are possessed, demon possessed. They seek to spread fear and violence, they are pawns of the devil who feeds off of the fear and suffering they create for power. Just as their leader, Mohammad, they use “God” as an excuse to prey on innocent people and children. Mohammad was a robber and a thief, his followers are no different. Islam is totally and completely bogus. It is a political military ideology disguised as a religion. Islam has murdered 270 million, raped and enslaved millions.

    It is not the Most High God they serve, but it is Satan.

    COMMITTING EVIL IN THE NAME OF GOD IS THE EPITOME OF EVIL

    ISLAM IS THE GREATEST CRIME AND SIN EVER COMMITTED BY MAN AGAINST GOD

    ISLAM IS THE EPITOME OF HATE CRIMES, RACISM, HATE SPEECH, BLASPHEMY. IN ISLAM, EXTERMINATION, MURDER, TERROR, TORTURE, BEHEADING, RAPE, SEXUAL MOLESTATIONOF BABY GIRLS, SLAVERY ARE ALL ACTS OF ISLAM

    “PROPHET MUHAMMAD: MONSTER OF HISTORY” – FIRST MUSLIM SAVAGE – FIRST MUSLIM JIHADIST – FIRST MUSLIM TERRORIST

    THE TEACHINGS OF THE QURAN ARE THE TEACHINGS OF A PSYCHOTIC AND THAT PSYCHOTIC IS PROPHET MUHAMMAD:MURDERER, TERRORIST, TORTURER, RAPIST, CHILD MOLESTER.

    By Denying The Existence of Evil You Become An Accomplice To Evil. You Give Evil Legitimacy and Respectability. You Have A Moral Obligation To Fight Evil. The President/Congress Have A Moral and Legal Constitutional Duty To Understand The Very Grave Danger Islam Poses To Democracy/ Constitution. By Denying The Existence of the Evil That Is Islam – The Blood of The Next 9/11 And All Future Muslim Attacks Will Not Only Be On Their Hands But Also On The Hands of The Religious, Media, Intellectual Elites and All Others Supporting Islam. These elites are guilty of treason!!

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