Jailing of Clerics Angers Muslims

November 17, 2006

Author: Michael Levenson

Source: The Boston Globe


SHARON - Muslim leaders in the Boston area expressed outrage yesterday over the arrest and jailing of two senior clerics in an alleged scheme that provided religious-worker visas to immigrants who used them for secular jobs .

Federal immigration agents on Wednesday arrested Hafiz Abdul Hannan , the leader of the Islamic Society of Greater Lowell in Chelmsford, and Muhammed Masood , the leader of the Islamic Center of New England in Sharon, along with 31 other people nationwide.

Muslims who know the two imams said they were troubled that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released few details of the allegations against the men, both of whom are revered for their work counseling families, leading prayer services, teaching the Koran, and performing weddings and funerals.

"It's just so flabbergasting the way they would do this," said Bilal Kaleem , associate director of the Boston chapter of the Muslim American Society. "It hurts civil liberties, it polarizes the community from society, and it's just not helpful in the long run."

Yesterday, the Islamic Center of New England posted a statement on its website decrying Masood's arrest.