April 1st, 2008 05:08 EST
Muslim Leaders visit Al-Arian in VA Prison
Representatives of several American Muslim groups today visited Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a former Florida professor currently on his second hunger strike in federal detention to protest alleged unjust treatment by U.S. authorities.
Al-Arian began refusing food and water on March 3rd to protest a third attempt by prosecutors to compel his testimony in court. He was transferred to a medical facility in North Carolina, but has since been returned to Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va. He is now taking only liquids and has lost 32 pounds.
SEE: Jailed Professor on Hunger Strike (IPS)
Those taking part in today's visit included representatives of American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a national coalition of major American Muslim organizations.
Following the meeting, delegation members called on the House Judiciary Committee to use its oversight function to intervene in Al-Arian's case. They also urged American Muslims and other people of conscience to contact the committee.
CAIR recently asked that letters urging Al-Arian's release be sent to Judge Gerald Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and to congressional leaders. Supporters are also being asked to write letters directly to Al-Arian.
SEE: Free Sami Al-Arian - How to Help
Al-Arian began his first hunger strike last year after being given a sentence of up to 18 months for refusing to testify before a grand jury in Virginia. His attorneys say an earlier plea agreement freed him from further cooperation with the government. Supporters also say the government's actions amount to a form of harassment.
In December of last year, CAIR welcomed a judge's decision to lift civil contempt charges against Al-Arian. The charges were dropped when the grand jury he was subpoenaed to testify before expired.