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.
> >
> > http://www.pbs.org/now/society/imam.html
> >
> >
> >
> > 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.
> > >
> > >
> > >

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