AMA Spotlights Lodi
Arrests & Aftermath
By Hazem Kira
Sacramento, CA: The American
Muslim Alliance (AMA), a national organization with 101 chapters,
has set up an emergency town hall meeting to help local Muslim
communities come to grips with the socio-political consequences
of alleged terror-related arrests in Lodi.
The AMA town hall meeting titled “Standing Up For Our
Civil Rights: How Not To Be A Victim of Guilt By Association”
will be held at the Islamic Center of Greater Sacramento located
at 411 V Street (5th and V St.) in Sacramento on Tuesday,
June 14 at 7: 00PM.
Confirmed speakers include independent vice presidential candidate
Peter Camejo, Libertarian party leader Mark Hinkle, and Green
Party Co-Chair Jo Chamberlain. Representatives of ACLU and
NAACP as well as several religious organizations are also
expected to speak at this event.
“The main purpose of this meeting is to make sure that
upstanding and law-abiding Muslim Americans are not victimized
through guilt by association,” AMA National Chair, Dr.
Agha Saeed said. “We want to ensure due process and
equal justice for all”.
Four individuals, including a Pakistani-born father and his
US-born son, were arrested in Lodi, California a few days
ago. The father and the son, both US citizens, were initially
accused of plotting terrorist activities in the United States.
However, in the last few days many of the more serious charges
against Umer Hayat, the father, and Hamid Hayat, the son have
been dropped. The other two individuals were arrested for
alleged visa violations.
Many civil libertarians have expressed grave misgiving about
variance in the two affidavits circulated by the FBI. According
to a report in the Los Angeles Times, “The first version
of the affidavit released to media organizations Tuesday by
the Department of Justice in Washington said potential terrorist
targets included hospitals and stores and contained names
of key individuals and statements about the international
origins of ‘hundreds’ of participants in alleged
Al Qaeda terrorist training camps inside Pakistan.”
The LA Times also reported that that “those details
— among the most alarming in the case — were widely
reported in the press but then deleted in the final version
filed with the federal court in Sacramento on Tuesday.”
Although the Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra attributed this
serious lapse to an “unfortunate oversight due to miscommunication,
“the defense attorney Johnny L. Griffin III, who represents
the father, 47-year-old Lodi ice cream truck driver Umer Hayat,
accused the government of "releasing information it knew
it could not authenticate”."
Legal experts are already on record having said that due to
these changes in affidavit “the perception of the defendants
in the minds of potential jurors may have been irrevocably
affected." Such a negative perception could make it virtually
impossible for the accused to receive a fair trial.
Many members of the California Civil Rights Alliance (CCRA),
a mainstream coalition of 23 organizations including the Catholic,
Episcopalian and Unitarian Churches, are expected to attend
the town hall meeting. The Green Party of Alameda County is
also sending a group of lawyers and activists to work with
Muslim communities in Northern California.