MSA Conference's Civil Rights Session
Kandil, Shereen, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
A session on civil rights called "Get up, Stand up; Stand up for your Rights: The State of Contemporary Civil Liberties" was held Sept. 5 at the annual conference for the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada, held alongside the Islamic Society of North America's 41st annual convention in Chicago.
Laila Al-Arian, daughter of civil and political rights activist and Muslim leader Sami Al-Arian, opened the session with her father's story. She gave a heart-wrenching, emotional account of an innocent man targeted for free-speech activities, whose rights were stripped thanks in part to the PATRIOT Act. Al-Arian, who has not yet been to trial, has been held in a federal penitentiary for over a year and a half.
Al-Arian's situation is one of many "politically motivated persecutions," claimed Rashad Hussain, a Yale law student. Such persecution, he stated, must be fought through hope, faith, and the Muslim vote.
Not only has the PATRIOT Act affected Al-Arian, but it also has caused problems for students on many American college campuses. According to laws passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI now can question students about their activities in different campus organizations, as well as encourage campus police to spy on certain students. The FBI also has targeted foreign students studying at U. …