Opinion: “Common Sense Prevails in Al-Arian Trial”

December 12, 2005

Source: The Tampa Tribune


On December 12, 2005 The Tampa Tribune ran an opinion piece by Parvez Ahmed, Chairman of the Board for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and an active researcher and teacher of Finance at the University of North Florida. "Former Attorney General John Ashcroft once hailed the arrest of Sami Al-Arian as 'a milestone in the war on terror.' Last week 12 ordinary Americans, none of whom shared the former University of South Florida professor's religion or ethnic origin, found no evidence to back up that claim. They declared Al-Arian not guilty on eight charges, including conspiring to commit murder abroad, money laundering and obstruction of justice. This verdict means a lot to the American Muslim community and should mean a lot to our fellow Americans. The jurors sent a clear message that even in the post 9/11 era, Americans are not ready to shred the Constitution... [The] loser in this saga may be fear. It was fear that lead to the passage of the Patriot Act that the prosecution used to develop its case against Al-Arian. It is fear that is preventing Congress from reforming the Patriot Act... The Justice Department should respect... the verdict reached by Al-Arian's peers by releasing him so that he may resume a normal life, or as close to normal as possible after such an ordeal. Vengeful or vindictive actions, such as deporting or retrying Al-Arian, will serve only to reinforce anti-American stereotypes."