From The Islamic Society of Central New York
Published in the Post-Standard on August 28, 2005

The Muslim community has become a convenient target

Two and a half years ago, Help the Needy, a local charity, was raided due to its humanitarian work in Iraq. Three of our members, including Dr. Rafil Dhafir, were arrested.

At least one other non-Muslim local charity did work in Iraq during the same period, also in violation of U.S. sanctions, at the time. However, only Help the Needy was targeted by federal prosecutors. We continue to wonder whether institutional Islamophobia has become a tacit policy of this Government.

Earlier this year, following a 17-week trial, Dr. Dhafir was tried and convicted of numerous charges, though none were related to terrorism. Our community, along with friends of Dr. Dhafir, firmly believes the verdict contradicts the evidence. We believe the verdict to be unjust, and we will campaign indefatigably to reverse this injustice.

Prior to the trial, our community suspected it was going to be particularly challenging for Dr. Dhafir to obtain a fair trial. The community in Syracuse has been misguided by politicians and senior Government officials who have repeatedly and unscrupulously painted Dr. Dhafir and others involved in the Help the Needy charity as supporting terrorism.

Yet, following a lengthy and expensive investigation, federal prosecutors failed to establish any evidence linking Dr. Dhafir or the charity to any terrorist activities.

There is a sad adage circulating amongst the Muslim community these days. If you want to harm someone, just accuse him of terrorist links. The Government will do the rest.

In an effort to influence the Judge’s sentence, federal prosecutors launched a desperate and malicious attempt to link Dr. Dhafir to terrorist groups; these same terrorist groups which were once funded and supported by this country.

By leaking their statements to the media, the overzealous prosecutors are trying to achieve in public what they failed to achieve in Court — to condemn a benevolent man based on a series of ill-defined preconceived misconceptions.

Such scaremongering tactics further inflame emotions amongst our members, and raise unnecessary fears amongst our fellow community members at large. These cheap attempts further complicate the task of fostering inter-communal relations which are based on mutual respect and understanding.

We appeal to you to thwart the prosecutors’ attempts to alienate the Muslim Community, and to condemn their attempts at making the Muslim Community a cheap, yet convenient, target.


Haikal Abu-Ghoush
Acting President

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