Protests against FBI Activities Continue
Willford, Catherine, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
A nationwide coalition of Arab-American and civil liberties activists has continued to respond to recent FBI "counter-terrorism" procedures, including interviews of Arab Americans about possible terrorist activities relating to the Persian Gulf crisis. On Jan. 29, Congressman Mervyn Dymally (D-CA) introduced H.Con. Res. 56, which seeks to protect Arab Americans from unwarranted governmental investigations and to encourage federal and state enforcement agencies to monitor and counter hate crimes against Arab Americans.
The Dymally legislation, referring to recent FBI investigations of Arab Americans, states that political beliefs, activities, and affiliations are protected free speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution. The resolution further states that recent FBI actions "unfairly arouse suspicion of Arab Americans, label the Arab-American community as disloyal, and encourage hate crimes against Arab Americans." Noting that as an ethnic group Arab Americans have been the victims and not the perpetrators of domestic terrorist activities, as well as the objects of various forms of constitutional violations, the resolution asserts that Arab Americans are "entitled to respect as peaceful and law-abiding citizens of the United States."
Co-sponsors of the legislation as of this writing include Representatives Thomas A. Andrews (D-ME), Barney Frank (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Charles Hayes (D-IL), James P. Moran (D-VA), David Bonior (D-MI), Ronald Dellums (D-CA), Mary Rose Oakar (D-OH), Nick Joe Rahall (D-WV), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Don Edwards (D-CA), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Robert Torricelli (D-NY), James Walsh (R-NY), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH).
Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA), announced the formation of a "coalition of church, civil rights, and ethnic groups who believe in the universal protection of human rights," to support the legislation and "to seek protection for Arab Americans from hate crimes inspired by the Gulf war. …