---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 07 Mar 2002 14:37:53 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Special Report/Commentary on Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin
Subj: Special Report/Commentary on Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin
Date: 3/6/2002 12:43:43 AM Eastern Standard Time
special note: The following report was written about a week ago, shortly
after I returned from the first week of opening proceedings in the trial of
Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. The trial has now entered its third week, and
the prosecution has just rested its case. Yesterday (Tuesday, March 5th)
marked Day One of the defense putting on its case; and I was notified
earlier this evening that Judge Stephanie Manis has requested closing
arguments for this coming Monday (3/11). You heard it right, if the
defense complies with the judge's "request," they would have just five and
a half days to put on their case!
I don't believe the defense will be able to comply. Whether they do or
not, however, is beside the point. The mere fact that the judge has made
this request (exerting pressure, no doubt, on the defense to comply)
suggests to me, once again, that we cannot take anything in this trial for
granted! From what I've seen, the government has a weak, circumstantial
case. I learned a long time ago, however, that political cases (more often
than not) cannot be won on legalities alone.
Something to think about.
The Trial of Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin:
Will Muslims in America Pass the Test?
There was much about Steve Visser's article in the February 24th edition of
the Atlanta Journal Constitution that bothered me ("King widow angers
Kinchen kin"). We can start with the opening paragraph: "The family of
slain sheriff's deputy Ricky Kinchen is asking the first lady of the civil
rights movement to please butt out of the ongoing trial of his accused
killer. On Friday, Coretta Scott King released a statement that seemed to
question the fairness of the trial of Jamil Abdullah
Al-Amin, a Muslim cleric once known as H. Rap Brown."
I consider this a deliberately provocative opening statement, in a report
that selectively used certain passages of Mrs. King's statement, while
assiduously avoiding others. For example, he quoted Mrs. King as stating,
"I want to express my concern about fairness and justice in the trial of
Mr. Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin," as well as her legitimate concern with glaring
inconsistencies in the government's case: "All of the inconsistencies that
have emerged in this case must be thoroughly explored and fully
investigated, and a clear and unequivocal motive must be established for
the verdict to have the credibility needed for closure," she said.
The selected quotes had the desired effect, as David Kinchen, the older
brother of the slain deputy, reacted to the news of Mrs King's statement in
predictable fashion. He reportedly said, "It's clear that her comments were
meant to fuel a conspiracy theory, which to my family is insulting. It is
almost as if Mrs. King is attempting to influence the outcome of the trial
and, as far as my family is concerned, she has no right to do that."
What Mr.Visser failed to mention in his report - and I can't help but
wonder if he also failed to mention this to the family members who he
solicited for comment - was that Mrs. King struck a principled and
necessary balance between expressing her concern for "fairness and justice"
in the trial proceeding, along with empathy for the "pain and suffering"
experienced by "the loved ones of the victims." Indeed, she ended her
statement with the following words: "This tragedy must not be compounded by
a flawed trial or rushed verdict. All care must be taken to insure that
justice prevails for the victims, the defendant and the community. If these
standards are scrupulously observed and reflected in the outcome, then the
healing process can begin." I couldn't have said it better.
Aside from my disappointment with how her statement was misused, I must
admit to being pleased by one paragraph in Mr. Visser's report: "The
statement from the King Center was handed out Friday by Mauri' Saalakhan,
director of The Peace And Justice Foundation, a Maryland based group that
has been supporting Al-Amin." Indeed we have been "supporting" the Imam,
and we have no regrets whatsoever. I wish that a host of other Muslim
organizations could say the same.
One of the questions that I heard repeatedly by Muslims and non-Muslims
over the course of the trial's first week was, "Where are the Muslim
organizations?" A legitimate question. From the day of opening arguments
to the February 21st initiative (in memory of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz),
not one representative of any major Muslim organization was present and
accounted for...and this is shameful! My fear is that the chronic absence
of some of our most capable organizations from the front line of this
important struggle, will end up being so damaging to their image and
credibility, that some of the leaders of these organizations will end up
needing a ladder to look a worm in the eye.
I wish that all of the fence sitting ("I wonder if he really did it?")
Muslims in America - and particularly, those from the "leadership" class -
could have been in the courtroom for opening arguments. If the jury had
been instructed to go back and deliberate immediately following the
prosecution and defense's opening arguments, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin would
have been exonerated hands down! It would not have been close.
Following opening arguments, the prosecution's first and most important
witness, Deputy Aldranon English, was put on the witness stand. His
testimony was graphic and very emotional. As can be expected, selected
excerpts of his prosecution testimony were repeatedly played by the
broadcast networks. What the viewers failed to see and/or hear, however,
were the troubling inconsistencies that emerged when Deputy English was
cross-examined by lead defense attorney, Jack Martin. And this was the
prosecution's "star witness."
For the remainder of the week, in the estimation of many, the prosecution's
case was all down hill from there. Indeed, there were a couple of occasions
when at the completion of a prosecution witness' testimony, observers
turned and quietly asked why the prosecution decided to put that particular
witness on the stand - because the witness' testimony appeared to help the
defense more than the prosecution. These are some of the things that absent
Muslims have been missing out on.
Among other things, this case provides anyone so inclined with an
opportunity to get some good education in the area of American
jurisprudence. (Believe it or not, I met a visiting Japanese jurist in the
The Prophet Mohamed (saw) is reported to have said: "A Muslim is the
brother of a Muslim; he neither fails him, nor does he hold him in
contempt." Thus far, in my humble view, we have collectively failed this
brother - and by extension, we are collectively failing ourselves. Many of
us have talked support. Our organizations have issued statements; our
students have written eloquent reports and commentaries; and we have held
occasional fund-raisers over the past two years which have amassed a paltry
sum (given the numbers and wealth that we have among us).
The bottom line is that comparatively few have had the courage and
sincerity to put words into deliberate, disciplined action!
When one considers the significant number of colleges and students in the
city of Atlanta alone, it is absolutely shameful that the MSAs do not not
have a strong and consistent presence in that particular courtroom. And for
this there is absolutely no excuse! It is also a badge of shame that when a
group of Muslim leaders recently made a trip to Atlanta, a non-Muslim
reporter reportedly challenged their credibility with the question, "Where
have you been? What have you done?" What indeed?
All is not lost, however...the opportunity is still there. This trial is
expected to continue for perhaps another two months or so [boy were we
mistaken]; and on Monday, March 18, 2002, the city of Atlanta will witness
part two of a national mobilization: "A Day of Solidarity With Imam Jamil
Abdullah Al-Amin." This initiative will be held at the Fulton County
Superior Court, 136 Pryor Street in downtown Atlanta, and will begin with a
morning press conference, continue with an afternoon rally, and culminate
with a late afternoon (or evening) action-oriented organizing forum at one
of the area universities, insha'Allah.
The aforementioned will be a continuation of the highly successful "Day of
Solidarity" recently held in Atlanta on February 21st (in memory of El-Hajj
Malik El-Shabazz), spearheaded by The Peace And Justice Foundation and the
International Support Committee for Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. For the
March 18th initiative, which will mark the second anniversary of this
unfortunate tragedy, we expect to have a number of prominent non-Muslim
leaders on hand, which we hope will be surpassed by the number of prominent
Muslim leaders on hand. (May Allah help us.)
A note of caution in my conclusion. Despite how well this trial has been
going for the defense, we cannot afford to be overconfident. We must follow
the Prophet's admonition, wherein he reportedly said,"Tie your camel and
have trust in Allah." We must do everything within our power to achieve the
result that we desire; then make dua to Allah (swt) and await His decision.
Securing our camel involves more than mere talk. I will end with the words
of US political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal:
"The struggle for the freedom and liberty of Atlanta Muslim leader Imam
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin must take place now, before the cold fingers of the
state can close around his neck....Al-Amin's freedom lies in people who
express their support now, instead of later. Fairness does not lie in
reversing an unjust conviction; rather it lies in preventing one in the
first place." (As with Mrs. King's closing remarks, I couldn't have said it
El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
Director of Operations,
The Peace And Justice Foundation
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