PATRIOTism Editorial by Richard Deats 2003

On February 26, 2003, government agents arrested Dr. Rafil Dhafir of Manlius, New York. Founder of the charity Help the Needy, Dr. Dhafir had been raising money to send relief to the poor in Iraq. His action was in defiance of the sanctions imposed on Iraq. So were the FOR-sponsored delegations to Iraq and the funds raised for water purification by the Campaign of Conscience. Like FOR and other peace and relief groups, Help the Needy put humanitarian compassion higher than the cruel sanctions that for over a decade starved the Iraqi people.

Dr. Dhafir has lived in the Syracuse area for more than twenty years and is a respected member of the community, an oncologist with a long-established medical practice. He is also a faithful Muslim. When he was arrested, 150 Muslim families in the area were visited by federal agents and subjected to frightening interrogation. Like the Japanese-Americans in World War II, many Muslims in this country, particularly those of Middle Eastern or Asian origin, since September 11, 2001 have felt like a community under siege, thought to be somehow linked to the “enemy.”

All of Dr. Dhafir’s assets were seized, including his passport. He has been incarcerated and repeatedly denied bail even though a growing community of support has pledged over one million dollars in collateral on his behalf. Government representatives claim Dhafir will try to flee the country if he is released, even though he would be monitored by the police and would have to wear a location device fixed to his ankle. Meanwhile his Constitutional rights have been denied, his medical practice stopped, and the charity he founded shut down. So far he has not been formally charged with terrorism, but rather with overcharging for Medicaid. That, however, is a very different matter and appears to be a ploy to go after Help the Needy. At any rate it is no excuse for denying Dr. Dhafir his Constitutional rights…..

For full artice go to:Fellowship of Reconciliation site.