Muslims continue to be besieged in the United States

Muslims continue to be besieged in the United States

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By Amy Goodman

When President Barack Obama made his public appearance with Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Monday as part of his first trip to a Muslim country, US federal agents were preparing to arrest Youssef Megahed in Tampa, Florida. Just three days earlier, on Friday, a jury in a United States federal district court had acquitted him of the charges for which he is now being deported.

When President Barack Obama made his public appearance with Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Monday as part of his first trip to a Muslim country, US federal agents were preparing to arrest Youssef Megahed in Tampa, Florida. Just three days earlier, on Friday, a jury in a US federal district court had acquitted him of charges of illegally transporting explosives and possession of an explosive device.

In meeting with Gul, Obama promised "to devise a series of strategies that can resolve the divide between the Muslim world and the West and make us more prosperous and more secure."

When acquitted by a jury made up of his peers, Youssef Megahed thought he was safe, back with his family. He had signed up for his final course at the University of South Florida that would allow him to earn his college degree. Then the nightmare he had just emerged from came back. His father told me: “Yesterday, around twelve o'clock in the afternoon, I took my son to buy something at Wal-Mart, which is in Bruce B. Downs, when we received a call from our lawyer saying that we should meet him. immediately, for some reason. So I left the store, and when we got to the parking lot, we were surrounded by more than seven people. They wore normal clothes without plates or identification of any kind, they surrounded us and handed me a paper. And they told me, ‘Sign this.’ ‘Sign this, what for?’ I asked, ‘This, what for?’ They said ‘We’re going to take your son because we’re going to deport him.”

As deportation proceedings progress, Youssef Megahed is in the custody of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The charges are the same for which he was acquitted. In August 2007, Megahed and a colleague of his, also a student at the University of South Florida, took a car trip to South and North Carolina. When they were forced to stop for speeding, the police discovered something in the trunk of the car, which they described as explosives. The other defendant along with Megahed, Ahmed Mohamed, said they were homemade fireworks.

Prosecutors referred to an online video made by Mohamed, in which he was said to teach how to turn a toy into an explosive detonator. Faced with the possibility of spending 30 years behind bars, Mohamed made an agreement to plead guilty and is now serving a 15-year sentence. Youssef Megahed has pleaded not guilty. The federal jury at the trial agreed with the defense's arguments that he was an accidental passenger and totally innocent of any wrongful act.

This is where Immigration and Customs Enforcement comes in. Despite criminal charges being dropped, it turns out that people can still be arrested and deported on the same charges. The United States Constitution protects people from being charged twice with the same crime. But in the murky world of immigration detention, it turns out that arresting someone twice for the same crime is totally legal.

Ahmed Bedier, the president of the Tampa Human Rights Council and co-host of “True Talk,” a program on world issues that airs on the Tampa community radio WMNF, and focuses on Muslims and Muslim Americans, criticizes the permanent attacks of the federal government against the American Muslim community and points in particular to the Joint Task Force Against Terrorism (JTTF, for its acronym in English). Bedier says the JTTF “includes not only federal FBI agents, but also postal inspectors, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, local deputy police inspectors and deputy police commissioners and all kinds of law enforcement officers, ”and when one agency fails to arrest an individual, another agency enters the picture. "It's like an octopus," he says.

When the “not guilty” verdict was read in court last Friday, Youssef Megahed's father, Samir, approached prosecutors. Bedier describes what he did: “It surprised a lot of people. He approached the prosecutors, the people who had been after his son for several years, and shook hands with them, extended his hand, and shook hands with prosecutors and FBI agents, and then also shook hands with the judge. The judge shook hands with Youssef, wishing him "good luck in the future." And they thought they were, you know ... the case was over. "

President Obama said in Turkey: “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, nor a Jewish nation, nor a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens united by ideals and a set of values ​​”.

Until Monday, Samir Megahed was praising the US judicial system. He told me on Democracy Now “I feel happy, and I am very proud that the system works. And I feel happy because the jury chose the happy ending for the bad story, which had my son detained for two years ”. At a press conference following the arrest of his son by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said: “America is the land of freedom. I think there is no freedom here. For Muslims there is no freedom ”.

Amy goodman She is the host of “Democracy Now!”, a daily one-hour international newscast that airs on more than 550 radio and television stations in English and 200 stations in Spanish. In 2008 she was honored with the "Right Livelihood Award", also known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize", awarded in the Swedish Parliament in December. Denis Moynihan contributed to the journalistic production of this column.

Text in English translated by Mercedes Camps and Democracy Now! in Spanish.

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  1. Saqr

    Well, bring, prodigal, welcome back.

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  4. Cumhea

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  5. Gordy

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