Community Concerned about Religious Leader's Detention

Anaheim, CA: The Free Imam Wagdy Committee (FIWC) has expressed concern over the case of Imam Wagdy Ghoneim. Imam Wagdy was detained on alleged minor immigration violations on November 4, 2004, during the month of Ramadan. His attorneys assert that he has been in this country legally, says a CAIR message. It adds:
Imam Wagdy is a world-renowned scholar on Islam and currently imam at the Islamic Institute of Orange County (IIOC) in Anaheim. His teachings focus on women and children's rights in Islam and positive character building for Muslims.
On November 30, the Immigration Court in San Pedro held a hearing to determine whether the Imam should be released on bond. The judge denied immediate bail and scheduled another bond hearing for December 28, 2004 in order to allow time to appoint an interpreter.
According to Imam Wagdy's attorney, Kazbek Soobzokov, "Despite ...court testimony [by] FBI Assistant Director Richard Garcia that the FBI have no information concerning Imam Wagdy being a national
security risk and despite ...the FBI [having] no objection to the Imam's release, agents of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Section (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security continue to block Imam Wagdy's release on bond."
Soobzokov also added, "ICE continues to maintain its position that the Imam poses a threat to national security. Their evidence to support such an allegation is nothing more than two internet, open source unauthenticated articles published by Steven Emerson and Sherrie Gossett; two anti-Muslim zealots whose attacks on the Imam can be comparable to attacks by the KKK against Martin Luther King."
FIWC is concerned by the DHS practice of misusing the 'national security' charge as a tool to selectively target religious leaders. The DHS, from the beginning has claimed that the case was merely an immigration issue. Therefore, FIWC is calling upon ICE to allow Imam Wagdy to be released on bail and be reunited with his family and community.
"We urge the Department of Homeland Security to hold fast to the basic principles of fairness, due process, and human rights," said Sabiha Khan, communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southern California.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.