Published with permission.
I wrote to Dean Rubin in an attempt to get some coverage for the case of Dr. Rafil Dhafir before he is sentenced on October 19th, 2005.

Dear Dean Rubin,

Thank you for your reply. Because of what I believed to be inadequate coverage of this case in the Post-Standard, I started a website where people can get some more information: My interest has been in making facts of the case available so that people could make up their own mind. I actually, mistakenly, believed that this was the function of the newspaper.

If we compare Dr. Dhafir with someone like Ken Lay, or indeed any white American male, then we can see very clearly that he is not receiving equal justice. The effect of his being denied bail, and therefore only being able to talk to one of his three lawyers at a time, cannot be overstated. And this is only one example of how Dr. Dhafir was hampered in his defense of himself.

Even if Dr. Dhafir were guilty of the crimes that he has been convicted of (and, having sat through the 17 week trial, I don’t believe he is) his treatment is extremely unjust and I cannot understand why people in this community have not spoken out against his treatment. Can you begin to imagine what kind of message this sends to the Muslim community when a pillar of their community can be knocked down without so much as a call for equal justice from the non-Muslim community?

Three of the defendants in this case are SU alumni, two have graduated from this university with PhDs (I don’t know the qualification of the third). Where has any concern within the University Community been for them? Or concern for the 150 mainly Muslim families, many with university ties, who were “interviewed” by the FBI on the day of the arrests?

I have spent the last year (I took incompletes last Fall and no classes in the Spring) trying to get people of standing, and organizations in this community to take a look at the unequal justice of this case. Apart from a few individuals who have responded and the Unitarian Universalist Church, I have been spectacularly unsuccessful. I now understand, as I never could have before, what likely happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

I appreciate you taking a look at the letters to assess whether you can cover this on Ivory Tower Half Hour. Coverage of whether Dr. Dhafir has received equal justice would not take very much knowledge of the case. I believe the case should rightly be addressed in the wider context of the “war on terror” and “civil liberties”. I am perplexed at the lack of concern shown by most Americans about the loss of their civil liberties.

Dr. Dhafir will be sentenced on October 19th. He is facing between 20 and 30 years for responding to the overwhelming humanitarian crisis in Iraq caused by the US imposed sanctions on that country. If you have any other advice on how I can get this case covered, I would be grateful to know.

I will contact Barb Fought, as you suggested.


On 9/16/05 2:06 PM, “David Rubin” wrote:
Dear Kathy:

I’ll take a look at the three letters and give you my reaction as to whether this is an appropriate story for Ivory Tower. You might pitch this to Barb Fought, too, since she hosts some of the shows, including the one this coming Friday. The last time I pitched this to the group, they simply didn’t know enough about it to have a position. Maybe that has changed.


Dear Dean Rubin,

Below are three letters that have been sent to the Post-Standard addressing the case of Dr. Rafil Dhafir. Two are in response to Richard A. Lindsay’s letter of Tuesday, September 13th, one is in response to the prosecution’s decision to bring the charge of “aid to terrorists” to the sentencing. All three letters are from people who attended the trial for 17 weeks. I would like to ask you again to consider covering this case on Ivory Tower Half Hour. I would also like to meet with you to talk with you, as Dean of the Newhouse School, about how I might get this case some coverage. As soon as the charge of “terrorism” was dropped from the trial, the media had no interest in covering the case.

Katherine Hughes

The three letters can be viewed in the Court Observer’s folder. Two were sent to the Post-Standard on September 13th and one was sent on August 24th. At this time they are still unpublished.