Saturday, December 30, 2006

International Day To End Torture

Endorsed by the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network. To join the delegation to Washington DC on January 11, 2007 or to participate in local actions contact GCISN

CALL TO ACTION: International Day of Action to Shut Down Guantánamo

"There is little question of how history will respond to Guantánamo…it will be looked back on with condescension and bemusement. How could we be so foolish, misguided, cruel? How we will respond is a legal question and a political question. But it is most of all a moral question. Will we respond with courage or cowardice? This is our choice."

- Joseph Margulies, a lawyer challenging the indefinite detention of the prisoners at Guantánamo

On January 11th, 2002, twenty hooded and shackled men shuffled off a plane from Afghanistan, arriving at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo. In an attempt to sidestep the Geneva Convention protections for prisoners of war, the Bush administration created a new category of “enemy combatant” for these men captured in the “war on terror.”

Since that time, more than one thousand men and boys have been imprisoned at Guantánamo. Accounts of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment have been condemned by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and other reputable bodies. The prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes as a way of protesting their treatment. Many have attempted suicide; three men killed themselves on June 10th 2006. Desperation, fear and frustration mark their confinement.

Five years later, not a single prisoner has been charged, tried or convicted of any crime. Many have been released because no evidence has been found against them, but more than 430 men remain in indefinite detention without hope of release. The United States has abandoned law and justice.

January 11th, 2007 marks five years of unjust imprisonment, isolation, beatings, interrogation and abuse for these men. We must say: no more. We must say: no longer. For our nation of laws, for our democracy, for our humanity and theirs, we demand small but essential steps to help return our nation to the best of our own traditions.

We call on the United States government to:

· Repeal the Military Commissions Act and restore Habeas Corpus.
· Charge and try or release all detainees.
· Withhold funds for the proposed $125 million construction of new military courts at Guantánamo.
· Clearly and unequivocally forbid torture and all other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, by the military, the CIA, prison guards, civilian contractors, or anyone else.
· Pay reparations to current and former detainees and their families for violations of their human rights.
· Shut down Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and all other U.S. prisons overseas, including secret CIA detention facilities.

We mark January 11, 2007 as a day of national shame. But we can also mark it as a day of citizen action. How? By acting on behalf of our fellow human beings in Guantánamo, their bereaved families and all victims of the “war on terrorism.”

We declare January 11, 2007 an International Day of Action to Shut Down Guantánamo. In Washington, DC we will march from the Supreme Court to the U.S. Federal Court. At the Supreme Court, Guantánamo Lawyers and others will address the press. Individuals will then proceed to Federal Court, taking on the names and identities of the men in Guantánamo and submitting Habeas petitions on their behalf. With our action and our bodies, we will forge the path that the Center for Constitutional Rights and other legal advocates demand on behalf of their clients. Outside the Federal Court on Constitution Avenue, people will read testimonies and names of prisoners, perform street theater and hand out information. There will be solidarity demonstrations from Amsterdam to Boise, Idaho and a National Call-In Day to Congress.

We invite you to come to Washington and participate, either as an individual or as part of an affinity group. If travel is not an option, join or plan an action in your own community. Around the country, groups are planning vigils and actions at courthouses, federal building and public squares. In other countries, the focus will be on U.S. Embassies and military facilities. For a full list of both National and International actions, visit

If you plan on coming to DC, we encourage you to form affinity groups and be in touch with organizers ahead of time for details on the scenario. Contact Matt Daloisio ( or Frida Berrigan (

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gunther and Elena were married in 2001. Gunther is retired US citizen. He worked as a factory and health care worker in Cleveland. Elena, a non-citizen, worked in health care and as private nurse in the Cleveland area. They lived in Gunther's Mayfield Village home for eight years.

One day Elena had a surprise when she went to the Cleveland office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to renew her work permit. She was arrested in September, 2005, because her U.S. visitor visa had expired. Elena's legal visitor status had lapsed during her first marriage with an abusive spouse. When she married Gunther, he petitioned for her but was denied by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

When Elena was arrested, Gunther, hired a second immigration attorney. Gunther also called the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network. I drove him to his first meeting with the attorney, because he was so upset that he could not drive his car. It was too late to save her from deportation. She was deported in October 2005 and barred from re-entering the US for ten years.

She was deported to Moscow, Russia. Her final destination was her native country, Ukraine, where her ailing mother lives. Elena is a talented health care worker and artist but there is no job for her in Ukraine. Gunther retired in 2003 and lives on his social security payments; hardly enough money to send much help to Elena. The couple had hoped to find a sponsor in Canada, where Elena could be closer to her husband and work, until she could legally return home to Mayfield Village. Elena sent this email, in May 2006 to the Immigrant Support Network to explain her talents and work experience:

I am an art therapist, or an activity pearson in nurcing facility or hospital/ I have great experiance working with sick people who got stroke, aids, got different amputations, depressed, got alzheimers desease. I also have an experiance to work with hospise patience [patients], I also did a lot of art resoration /old paintings,/ in my past, also I got qualification in theraputic massuse [masseuse]. At this time I am steing [staying] with my friends in Moscow, because now they checking my identification because I need a new passport its drives me insain. thank you don for everything you doing for me and gunther, because if i can go to Canada i can be close to my husbend. thank you a lot don,i was very popular art therapist in meridia south point, i am very good and patient with sick and disable people and i know such professions are on demend in us because not everyone wants to be arround sick people all the time, but i have no problem and got great satisfaction to make sick people to forget they problems even for a few hours, i am missng communication with patients now, its wos a part of my life like everything else Now I have no job and my mother dieng from cancer Elena Smolej

GCISN, attempted to find a Canadian sponsor, until the situation changed with her mother's sickness. Now Elena has a sponsor and job opportunity in Spain where she can earn a decent wage so that she will afford to get her mother required medical care and provide some semblance of normalcy for both of them. She needs $500 in fees for travel documents to allow her to work in Spain. Her family can pay half of that. Gunther would love to send the $250 amount if he had it, but living on a fixed income leaves him powerless to help. Please take a moment to consider volunteering with GCISN or to make a tax-deductible contribution to help Elena. Make your check payable to the Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network (GCISN), write "Elena" in the memo line and mail to World People Exchange, 4323 Clark Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44109, or drop in Sunday for doughnuts or visit, using the Paypal button you can make your contribution. Please call 216-631-2233 ext. 2 or email with any questions or comments.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network: Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network

Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network: Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network


Farm Labor Organizing Committee FLOC ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

(PDF document, English/Español)

Join the Immigrant Rights Network

(PDF document, English/Español)


Legislation Update

(PDF document, English)

Immigration News:

FLOC Proposes Freedom Visa

(PDF document, English/Español)

Voices from the New Civil Rights Movement

(Word document, English)

Congressman Gilmore Recognizes HR 4437 Is Wrong Bill

(opens in new window)

Baldemar Velasquez leads action at the office of Congressman Gilmore

(video clip, opens in new window)

FLOC Leads Protest

(opens in new window)

Ohio Immigrants Protest Hateful Legislation

(opens in new window)

Online Materials:

What Is the Immigrant Rights Movement?

(PDF English/Español)

Why Are They Here?

(PDF English/Español)

How Do Immigrants Contribute To Our Society?

(PDF English/Español)

Immigrant Working Rights

(PDF English/Español)

Anti-Immigrant Hate

(PDF English/Español)

What Is "Illegal"?

(PDF English)

History of Immigrant Workers

(PDF English)

What does International Law have to say about worker organizing?

* ILO Standards and the United States

* Convention 135

* Convention 98

Immigrant Rights Coalitions:

* National Coalition

(PDF English)

* US Immigrant Manifesto

(PDF English/Español)

* International Immigrant Manifesto

(PDF English/Español/François)


In recent years, we have seen a visible increase in new immigrants in the U.S. There have traditionally been immigrant neighborhoods in most large cities across America, including Irish, Germans, Italians, and also African Americans and Appalachians who have moved to new areas in the country. After World War II, suburbs began developing around the country, and many ethnic neighborhoods melted away. Until recently, immigration ceased to be a visible issue. In the 1990s, however, a new wave of immigrants became visible, as economic globalization, new social conficts, and other forces after the end of the Cold War increased the rates of migration all over the world. Hispanics are the largest and most visible of these new immigrants in the U.S., but people have come from every region in the world seeking to support their families and to realize new opportunities.

Popular reactions to these new immigrants have also been emerging in recent years. Some responses have been positive, as new neighbors have been welcomed into jobs and communities. But there have also been negative reactions, particularly after the attacks of September 11 2001. After the Civil Rights Movement, it was no longer acceptable in America to express hate and racism... but now it seems OK to be hateful and racist against immigrants. Myths and misinformation are clouding understandings, the voices of prejudice and discrimination are becoming louder, and anti-immigrants are forming vigilante groups and pushing policies that are punitive and oppressive.

What is the Real Immigration Issue?

The American society is facing a major challenge: What kind of society we are making for ourselves? Are we to become a hateful and oppressive society? Or will we become the best that we can be as a people?

FLOC has stood for social and economic justice since its beginnings. Our members are largely immigrants making important contributions in producing foods for Americans. In recent worker conventions, they have raised the issue of the prejudice and discrimination directed against them, and have called on the union to defend immigrant rights.

In response, FLOC has developed our immigrant rights campaign, with the primary goals of:


Organizing the immigrant community to have their own voice in all areas of their lives.

Organizing support networks for immigrant rights.

Policy advocacy to achieve:
o The free flow of workers between countries having trade agreements.
o Legal residency for immigrants permanently working and living in the country.

Reunification of families separated by international borders.

Full human, civil, due process, and working rights for all immigrants.
o An ongoing process for addressing these issues with future migrant flows.

The information provided here is to help develop our supporters and allies to:


Gain a better understanding of immigration and the challenges faced by both immigrants and our society.

Explore what solutions can work the best for all concerned.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network

Tips for the Eco-Friendly Home

Maintain diversity in the garden,lawn and your body. Allow beneficial insects, plants and microbes to thrive in your environment. These plants and animals help maintain a healthy balance in your body, your home and your yard. Please consider your body first. Beneficial bacteria is important to ward off infections; that's why eating yogurt can help you sustain a healthy body. Acidophilius is a group of beneficial (probiotic) human bacili which inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestinal tract and stimulate the immune system. Poor diet and use of antibiotics can reduce the natural level of acidophilus in your body.

The same principle holds true in the lawn and garden. The Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network (GCISN) understands the importance of diversity. This spring, GCISN will offer organic lawn and garden amendments and economical tips for maintenance of your environment. Through a special arrangement with Organic Lawn and Yard, GCISN will offer wholesale prices on organic supplies for your home, lawn and garden. Call 440-237-0673 or email for your eco-order. Members ($20/annually) of GCISN will get an extra 10% off wholesale prices.JOIN NOW. SEE THE "DONATE" BUTTON

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of Detention

Annual State of Detention and 2005 in Review
From the President
Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network

Immigration is central to civil liberties,
international human rights
and global efforts for peace. Developing relationships
with the diverse
ethnic and racial groups creates pathways to deal with
violence and other social ills. This is a critical
component for developing
real homeland security for hometowns everywhere.

Diplomacy is one tool that U.S. counter-terrorism
policy apparently
avoids. Instead, the government deploys divisive and
measures: special registration (in 2002-03, for men
from 26 nations with
large Muslim populations), roundup, detention,
deportation and spying on
Arab, South Asian and Muslim-Americans. Such tactics
cause alienation and
fear among immigrant communities.

The tactics of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) and the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have failed to
uncover any actual
terrorism. Of the tens of thousands of Arab, Muslim
and South Asian men
that were subject to "special registration," no ties
to terrorism were

Government cases alleging terrorist ties are often
- Sami Al-Arian was aquitted in late 2005 by a Florida
jury for charges
linking him to terrorism.
- Yasser Hamdi, alleged Taliban loyalist, was offered
a deal by the US
government in which he gave up his US citizenship and
returned to
Saudi Arabia.
- Ahmed Omar Abu Ali claims he was tortured into
confessing to the
allegation of plotting to
assasinate the president.
- Capt James Yee, military chaplain, Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, accused of
spying; now vindicated.
- Brandon Mayfield, Muslim convert, accused of ties to
Spanish train
bombing; now vindicated.
- Ahmed Hannan Koubriti and Ali-Haimoud accused of
terrorism in
Detroit; now free and filing suit against the
government for a cruel, three
year detention.
- Nuradin Abdi, accused Columbus, Ohio mall bomber,
was threatened to
obtain confession and abused in prison.
- Ashraf Al-Jailani of Kent, Ohio, legal US resident
of Yemeni origin,
was detained over three years, originally called a
“first-string al
Qaeda operative”. The government has retracted this
allegation and
recently deported him for a misdemeanor domestic
violence charge.
- Imam Fawaz Damra, emigrated from Occupied Palestine
in the 1980's and
was convicted in 2004 for omitting affiliations on
immigration forms.
He is said to have had ties to Palestinian Islamic
Jihad and the "Afghan
rebels". The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was not on the
US terrorist list
at the time of his omission and Damra supported the
Afghan rebels
simultaneous with President Reagan. Damra grew up in a
war zone and saw his
people brutalized by Israeli Defense Forces long
before the first
suicide bombings occurred. Damra has risen above the
violence, apologized
for anti-Jewish statements and has become an
interfaith leader in
Northeast Ohio, advocating for peace and nonviolence.
He know awaits removal
from the USA.
See Bill Moyer's interview with Fawaz Damra:

Review the disturbing case of Dr. Dhafir as told by
Kathy Kelly of
Voices in the Wilderness

These represent several of the hundreds (possibly
thousands) of cases
of injustice that serve as temporary justification
that the government
is busy doing something to keep us safe while real
criminals go
undetected. As the Bush administration manipulates our
system of justice to
sacrifice the rights and freedoms of a few so-called
our civil liberties, the rule of law and governmental
checks on power
are severely compromised.

GCISN works to counteract fear tactics with
“nonviolent civility”.
We broaden our own lives by shopping and dining in
neighborhoods, attending mosque open house programs,
and conversing with those who
may be experiencing discrimination. These are simple
tasks that open an
eye to the world. Standing up for people of Muslim
faith, and Arab,
Asian, African, Latino or other affected groups is our
charge because many
of us are the embedded immigrants in this country.
Isn't this really
standing up for ourselves?

Don Bryant, president, GCISN

This is just a brief view of our philosophy and
projects. Please see
GCISN's "Year in Review" in the pages which follow.
JOIN GCISN, PLEASE. DUES $1- $100 (sliding scale).
We're networking to establish Hometown Security
through intercultural interaction. PAY PAL @
or mail to GSISN, PO Box 93553, Cleveland, OH 44101

CALL 440-237-0673

Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network 2005 Year
in Review

This year GCISN has taken on many projects and
continued to inform 165
email subscribers and media contacts through
about local and national issues concerning
immigration, racial and ethnic
profiling, prisoner abuse, civil liberties, domestic
diversity, cultural events and more.

- corresponded and visited men and women detained in
Bedford Heights
jail; Seneca County, OH; York County, PA and other
facilities where
immigrants are detained under contract with US
Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) and the US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE). We
have advocated for their rights to due process, health
care, release or
return to their country of origin. We have contacted
family members,
attorneys, and/or spiritual advisers when requested.
- sponsored public demonstrations and programs to
publicize unjust
detentions, discriminatory and selective enforcement
of harsh immigration
laws and the heavy toll on families victimized by such
practices. Two
demonstrations were held at the A. Celebrezze Federal
Bldg. (Cleveland);
two programs to publicize Ashraf Al-Jailani's three
years of unjust
detention were presented at the Islamic Community
Center of Akron and
Kent. Extensive media coverage resulted from some
- the Arab Gazette, Arab/English news printed a front
page article
written by GCISN president concerning the plight of
one detainee/deportee
and his family who were forced to sell their
restaurant. The article
also exposed huge federal expenditures for the massive
detention program
of ICE and DHS. No ties to terrorism were uncovered
through this

- incorporated as a nonprofit membership organization,
established a board of directors and elected officers.
The Board of Directors
includes, Kim Alabasi, Don Bryant (president), Brian
Fry, Vera Hall
(treasurer), Yasir Hamdallah, Yoshiko Ikuta, Mary Ann
Kerr (secretary),
Linda Park (vice president) Catherine Podojil and
Esther Sassaman, who has
taken a leave of absence while she pursues a graduate
degree in

- sent representative to Washington DC with the Farm
Labor Organizing
Committee (FLOC), Toledo, OH office delegation, to
lobby for fair
immigration policy and a guest worker program.
- organized a delegation of religious and community
activists and
immigration law experts to meet with aides to Senators
DeWine and Voinovich
to oppose the REAL ID Act and it's cumbersome and
provisions. For example, this act mandates states to
fund a new drivers
license and identification card and strips the right
of habeas corpus
from non-citizens, defined as “persons” and once
protected in the
Bill of Rights.
- sent legislative alerts to the email list on issues
of immigration,
poverty, and prisoner abuse.

- held two fundraisers in early 2005 to help defray
legal expenses for
Michele Swensen Al-Jailani) to reunite with her three
children after
her husband's detention (see introduction) sent her
into poverty and
depression. The federal government scrutinized her
with searches,
surveillance, and seizure of personal property,
including her computer hard
drive. Over $2000 in legal fees are subsequently due.

- a panel discussion, "Families on the Front Line",
was presented by
GCISN for the Summer Supper Series at the Friends'
Meeting House (Peace
House), cosponsored by Cleveland Peace Action, Women
Speak Out For Peace
and Justice, and American Friends Service Committee.
- supported domestic violence victim, Mai Hamed, a
Palestinian Muslim
who was set ablaze by her husband, (now deceased).
Mai's hand's were
burned off and 90% of her body suffered 2nd and 3rd
degree burns.
Members assisted Mai and her mother (and caregiver)
with transportation,
applications for assisted housing, communications,
publicity that elicited
donations, set up a Key Bank Mai Hamed Relief Fund,
and organized an
exhibit of Mai's paintings for the Tremont Art Walk
and a subsequent
Domestic Violence Forum at the Inside-Outside Gallery.

- provided and initiated "letters of support" for Imam
Fawaz Damra, an
interfaith leader, who fell under unwarranted
governmental scrutiny
- assisted a Palestinian family, whose husband/father
was deported, by
escorting the children to IslamFest at a local mosque,
the teenage boys
to class at the Islamic Center, and the entire family
to two Cavalier's
basketball games.
- secured a community development grant ($1,100)
through the Catholic
Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) to help fund
Behind the Bars, a
project designed to establish and maintain family
unity and empowerment
in cases of detained or deported immigrant family
members. The grant
runs until, June, 2006. Please see
- purchased tickets for Muslim immigrants to attend
John Dear
nonviolence program at the Congregation of St. Joseph
- provided advocacy for immigrants of Arab, Asian,
Ukranian and Central
American origin.

GCISN has established a working relationship with
organizations, including the Beit Hanina Palestinian
Social Club; Cleveland
Catholic Diocese; Cleveland Domestic Violence Center;
the Council on American
Islamic Relations, Cleveland office; Inter Religious
Task Force On
Central America; Islamic Center of Cleveland; Jewish
Community Federation
Subcommittee on Battered Immigrant Women; Women Speak
Out; and others.

GCISN supports comprehensive immigration reform that
respects the
rights, contributions, and struggles of migrants and
their families

According to the UN Geneva Migration Group (GMG) there
are "185 million
international migrants in the world today, more than
double the figure
only 25 years ago. Factors that have contributed to
the increase in the
scale of international migration include globalization
and growing
disparities in living conditions both within and
between countries."

Most estimates indicate that are about 11 million
undocumented migrants
in the US, a 23%
increase since 2001. Migrants provide essential
services to the US
economy and society . They also contribute to the
development of their
countries of origin by supporting their families and
communities back home.
Such remittances are important for the economy of many
countries and in some cases "surpasses the amount of
official development
aid received." (GMG)

Nevertheless, many migrants do not receive recognition
for their
contributions. The role of migrants in society is
often misunderstood.
Foreign professionals and workers play essential roles
in national economies.
In their overwhelming majority they are positive
contributors and not a
burden on the communities they live in.

"Many migrants, especially in low-paid jobs, face
living at the margin of society without access to
adequate housing,
education or health care. Often migrants only have
access to jobs that place
them in hazardous and exploitative work conditions.

GCISN has already forged ahead in 2006 on the issue of
reform, and human rights. Two members of GCISN will
join the Christian
Peacemaker Teams in Douglas, AZ, February 24, on the
US / Mexico Border to
observe, hear concerned voices and relate the impact
of immigration
laws on individuals and families in the US and Mexico.

JOIN GCISN, PLEASE. DUES $1- $100 (sliding scale).
We're networking to
establish Hometown Security through intercultural
interaction. PAY PAL
or mail to GSISN, PO Box 93553, Cleveland, OH 44101

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Support Statements for Imam Fawaz Damra

Imam Fawaz Damra was re-arrested on Thanksgiving
weekend as he left his house to deliver Friday
prayers at the Islamic Center of Cleveland.

> > He is being detained in Monroe, Indiana awaiting a
> > possible deportation for not declaring ties to
> > groups
> > now defined as "terrorists" by the U.S. State
> > Department on his iimmigration papers in 1991.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > The following letters of support include:
> >
> >
> > > 1. "Imam Damra Gets Mixed Signals" by C Podojil
> > and
> > D.Bryant,
> > Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network
> > 2. Rev. Werner Lange, Newton Falls, OH
> > 3. Dr Julio Pino, Kent, OH
> > 4. Rev. Thomas Dipko, Cleveland, OH
> >
> > #2,3 and 4 appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer
> > on 11/30/05
> > >
> > > Imam Fawaz Damra gets mixed signals by D.
> Bryant
> > > and
> > > C. Podojil
> > > >
> > > > If Imam Fawaz Damra of the Islamic Center of
> > > Cleveland were studying recent U.S. history
> and
> > > current events, he would assume that certain
> > > political attitudes and statements are
> > acceptable
> > > and commendable and some are not.
> > > >
> > > Most would agree that calling Jews "the sons
> > of
> > > monkeys and pigs" is deplorable; even Imam
> Damra
> > > admits that. Such speech, however, is protected.
> > Yet
> > > recent remarks by the Reverend Pat Robertson
> that
> > > the
> > > U.S. should assassinate Venezuelan President
> Hugo
> > > Chavez, or right-wing columnist Ann Coulter's
> > > > wishing that the 9/11 hijackers had attacked
> > the
> > > New York Times, or Bill O'Reilly's call for Al
> > > Quaeda
> > > to hit San Francisco because of that city's
> vote
> > > against military recruitment in the schools,
> are
> > > similarly deplorable, but protected, and no one
> > is
> > > calling them terrorists or trying to send them
> out
> > > of
> > > the country.
> > > >
> > > >Ordinary U.S. Americans in many communities
> call
> > > for
> > > the killing of Muslims and Arabs, here and
> > > overseas,
> > > every day on talk radio and on publicly
> displayed
> > > signs. U.S. officials say "bring them on,"
> speak
> > of
> > > "taking them out," promise U.S. Americans "they
> > > won't be a problem for long," and offer other
> > > provocative statements threatening violence.
> They
> > do
> > > this continually. In fact, they do it so often
> > that
> > > it hardly registers anymore, except to those
> who
> > > wish
> > > to remain aware of such speech and its effect on
> > > listeners.
> > > >
> > > > > The only difference between the above
> > examples
> > > and the firteen-year-old statement of Imam Damra
> > is
> > > that the Imam has apologized for his words. The
> > > others have not, nor, one imagines, have they
> any
> > > plans to do so.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > > The government's indictment against Damra
> > > states
> > > that he lied about ties to terrorist
> > organizations.
> > > One of these organizations was also supported by
> > > U.S.
> > > tax dollars at the urging of former President
> > > Ronald
> > > Reagan. That organization, the Mujihadeen, or
> > Afghan
> > >
> > > rebels, and Reagan were credited and commended
> for
> > > the
> > > defeat of the U.S.government's longtime foe, the
> > > former USSR.
> > > >
> > > > The other organization Damra was said to
> have
> > > lied
> > > about is known as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,
> a
> > > group responsible for suicide bombings against
> > > Israelis -- was not included on the state
> > > department's "terrorist" list in 1991 when Damra
> > > entered the U.S.
> > > >
> > > > Damra's distaste for the Israeli government
> is
> > > understandable, having lived under the brutal
> > > occupation of Palestine before coming to the
> > U.S.
> > > Fawaz Damra has seen his people suffer
> > > displacement,
> > > hunger, thirst, torture, and murder in his
> > > homeland.
> > > Defense of one's homeland is universally
> accepted
> > > as an appropriate reaction to invasion and
> > > occupation.
> > > >
> > > > Now the the U.S. government has skewed the
> > facts
> > > and the laws enough to convict this man. Of
> what?
> > > Is
> > > this the government's way of covering itself
> > amidst
> > > the growing realization that the US is failing
> in
> >
> > > the war on terrorism? This is called
> > scapegoating.
> > > Why must we destroy lives and communities by>
> > > scapegoating entire populations? We have done
> > this
> > > before, to Japanese-Americans in World War II,
> > to
> > > dissenters and others during the McCarthy era.
> > > Today,
> > > in addition to targeting the Muslim-American
> and
> > > Arab-American communities, our government
> > continues
> > > a
> > > long tradition of mistreating immigrants from
> > > Mexico
> > > and Latin America.
> > > >
> > > > Let's work to bring Muslims and Arabs into
> the
> > > community, not alienate them. Imam Damra has
> > been
> > > building bridges with his interfaith work, even
> > > during the long period of his press harassment,
> > > arrest, trial, and imprisonment. And it has been
> > > working. The many interfaith programs at the
> > > Islamic Center of Cleveland under Damra's
> > leadership
> > > brought together Christians, Jews, and others.
> > > > They were learning about Islam, sharing
> their
> > > own
> > > faiths, and finding common ground.
> > > >
> > > > Forgiveness is one of the virtues of people
> of
> > > faith. Let's stop looking for fights and find
> > > forgiveness .
> > >
> > >
> >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > There's no justice in deporting Imam Damra
> > >
> > > Cleveland Plain Dealer
> > > Wednesday, November 30, 2005
> > >
> > > The deportation proceedings against Imam Fawaz
> > > Damra
> > > should be of great concern to every patriotic
> > > American
> > > and person of faith. Every witch hunt should be.
> > The
> > > purpose of witch hunts is not to find witches,
> but
> > > to
> > > create them; and their effect is to drain the
> > > lifeblood from American justice. The attempted
> > > character assassination of Imam Damra is no
> > > exception.
> > >
> > >
> > > Unlike the demonic caricature created by
> > > prosecutors,
> > > Damra is a man of profound faith, a penitent
> > servant
> > > of God. Only a person of deep faith could have
> > > survived the hell imposed upon him and his
> family
> > in
> > > recent years and still remained an effective
> > > interfaith peacemaker.
> > >
> > > Those of us present at the Iftar Ramadan dinner
> > at
> > > his mosque last month heard him explicitly
> > denounce
> > > terrorism in the name of Islam. In fact, he made
> > > clear
> > > that since terrorism is so entirely foreign to
> > true
> > > Islam, the term "Muslim terrorist" is an
> oxymoron
> > -
> > > since no true Muslim could ever engage in
> > terrorism.
> > >
> > >
> > > Is this not precisely the voice of truth and
> > peace
> > > from within the American Muslim community that
> the
> > > world needs to hear at this critical juncture?
> To
> > > silence it would be an American tragedy. Imam
> > Damra
> > > must not be deported.
> > >
> > > Werner Lange, Newton Falls
> > >
> > > Ihave had the great honor and privilege of
> > knowing
> > > and working alongside Imam Fawaz Damra in his
> > > capacities as spiritual leader, educator and
> human
> > > rights activist. More important, he has graced
> me
> > > with
> > > his friendship for years. Therefore, I feel
> > obliged
> > > to
> > > speak up on his behalf as his legal fate hangs
> in
> > > the
> > > balance.
> > >
> > > Imam Damra is a family man, and his family is
> the
> > > entire religious community of Northeast Ohio. No
> > one
> > > of his calling has done more, in my view, to
> > further
> > > understanding between Jews, Muslims and
> > Christians.
> > >
> > > Having attended the interfaith open house at
> the
> > > Islamic Center of Cleveland on numerous
> occasions,
> > I
> > > can attest to the love I and other guests have
> > seen
> > > shining from his face. His sermons, informal
> chats
> > > and
> > > even handshakes have given cause for hope to
> > people
> > > of
> > > faith during trying times. In September 2003, as
> > > guest
> > > speaker at another interfaith gathering at the
> > > Islamic
> > > Center of Akron and Kent, Imam Damra had the
> > > audience
> > > - prominent clergy of nearly every denomination
> -
> > > cheering and praising his call for an America
> > united
> > > in defense of peace, equality and civil
> liberties
> > > for
> > > all.
> > >
> > > Damra is blessed with the soft power of words
> to
> > > convey the message at the vital center of all
> > > religions: Love one another. Let us all plead
> that
> > > what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels
> of
> > > our
> > > nature" guide the decision in his deportation
> > case.
> > >
> > > Julio C. Pino, Kent
> > >
> > > Arbitrary" and "justice," in matters defined by
> > > law,
> > > are words of contradiction. Although the purpose
> > of
> > > the officials responsible for the arrest of Imam
> > > Fawaz
> > > Damra on his way to morning prayers may make
> sense
> > > to
> > > them, their action gives our democracy's due
> > process
> > > an ugly face.
> > >
> > > No new evidence has been identified to warrant
> > this
> > > action. No court has been identified as having
> > > authorized it. Nor does it make sense to believe
> > > that
> > > Imam Damra is a flight risk when he himself
> fears
> > > deportation precisely for reasons of his own
> > safety
> > > in
> > > other lands.
> > >
> > > Our justice system has not determined that this
> > > spiritual leader, who has apologized for earlier
> > > polemics that he now regrets and has completed a
> > > related sentence for, is a danger to our society
> > or
> > > deserving of deportation. Until and unless it
> > does,
> > > Imam Damra belongs in his home with his family
> and
> > > in
> > > the congregation that continues to welcome his
> > > leadership.
> > >
> > > Rev. Thomas E. Dipko, Cleveland
> > >
> > > Dipko is interim director of Churches Uniting
> in
> > > Christ.
> > >
> > >
> > >