These times are filled with news of disturbing words, attitudes and events that rattle our resolve. At the same time we are riding the river currents of solidarity that keep us in it for the long haul. Sometimes we may feel like we're on a roller coaster that is spinning out of control, but beside us we find glorious folks who can carry us when we tire and become discouraged. I am sending you a message of great hope and resolve sent by a man I have grown to love and respect as a brother. In this same email I send you another message, also from a committed worker for justice, but filled with chilling reminders of how much work remains to be done. I thank Phillis Engelbert of Ann Arbor's Peace Events Committee for keeping these messages coming and for her unending work to free our brother Rabih Haddad and educate our minds and hearts as we work for justice.
in peace & solidarity
"As you come to know the seriousness
of our situation--the war, the racism, the poverty in the world--you come
to realize it is not going to be changed just by words or demonstrations.
It's a question of risking your life. It's a question of living your
life in drastically different ways." Dorothy Day, "Seeds of Peace"
Hello peace people,
I apologize up front for the length of
this message. However, there are many items
of interest I felt compelled to pass along. This message contains:
- info on June 20th meeting
- community letter and poem from Rabih Haddad
- report on the events of June 14th (marking 6 months behind bars for Rabih Haddad)
- report from Bush protest at the Ohio State University commencement
The Bush admin. now claims that their ìstrike firstî policy will be in place by August and war with Iraq is at the top of their list. The only thing standing between these sinister plans and their fulfillment is our refusal to acquiesce. The pressureís on us to keep pushing for peace.
UM RESEARCHER TO SPEAK ON BIOLOGICAL WARFARE:
NO TECHNICAL SOLUTION IS POSSIBLE
Thursday, June 20, 2002
Friends Meeting House
1420 Hill St. Ann Arbor
University of Michigan researcher, DR. SUSAN WRIGHT will give a talk titled "Biological Warfare and Disarmament: Global Perspectives" at Friends Center at 1420 Hill Street on June 20th at 7 PM. Dr. Wright is coauthor of Preventing a Biological Arms Race and the forthcoming Biological Warfare and Disarmament: Global Perspectives.
LETTER FROM RABIH HADDAD TO THE COMMUNITY
June 3, 2002
Dear friends, brothers and sisters,
I have attempted to write this letter on several previous occasions but was lost for words every single time. How do I express my gratitude to those who were total strangers to me before my arrest on December 14th of last year but have sacrificed their time, effort and money to show their support for me and my family in our predicament, thus becoming friends that I feel extremely honored and priviliged to have. "Thank You" just doesn't cut it. My giant gratitude cannot be confined to the limitation of words.
You have contacted elected officials, you have demonstrated and protested the government's infringements and excesses, and you have written me letters of encouragement and support. All of this was, and continues to be a great source of solace that I draw upon every single day.
The labor pains of September 11th were an excruciating vanguard of a new human understanding. A new HUMAN ORDER if you will, that you seem to have grasped. There are many around us who insist that this precious baby was still-born. But such are the most precious things in life. Babies are born through the pains of labor. The sun rises after a night of cold and darkness. Rocks have to be crushed before diamonds are produced.
Just like a candle burns and melts to light the way for others, and an incense stick withers away to leave an uplifting aroma of freshness and purity, we must endure until we prevail, and prevail we will with God's grace and mercy.
a friend and penpal of mine sent me a beautiful poem she had written wondering
what Freedom was. I answered with a poem that I am only sharing with
you because of her encouragement. It is titled :"Freedom"
Freedom is... soaring to the
snowy peaks of a majestic mountain range, or
sinking to the depths of your soul
Freedom is...making that choice.
Freedom is ....drifting like
an Autumn leaf on a sleepy stream, or
being carried on the wings of a cherished memory
Freedom is...making that choice.
Freedom is ...chasing a cotton-tail
rabbit on a blooming meadow, or
riding the chariots of your dreams.
Freedom is...making that choice
Freedom is ...watching a bumble bee
tease the pollen full fluffy buds, or
being swept up be a masterful symphony of emotions
Freedom is... making that choice.
Freedom is... getting drenched
in a blissful downfall of cleansing rain, or
immersing yourself in God's graces
Freedom is...making that choice.
Freedom is ... breaking the
shackles that bind over spirit and
transcending the reality of "matter"
to the boundless realm of faith,
Freedom is making that choice,
or ...not making it at all!
*NOTE: RABIH IS BACK IN MICHIGAN, AT THE
MONROE COUNTY JAIL, AND HAS A NEW ADDRESS.
Please write to him.
100 E. 2nd St.
Monroe, MI 48161
Report on June 14, 2002
Events commemorating 6-month anniversary of Rabih Haddadís arrest.
The thunderstorms of Friday afternoon threatened to ruin the much-anticipated Peopleís Immigration Court and Friendship Picnic. A handful of people gathered at the Federal Building at 5:30 pm, the appointed time, and hovered beneath a roof overhang to stay dry. Within minutes, the rain stopped and the clouds parted. The sun shone through, lifting everyoneís spirits.
The event got started late and attendance was down due to the rain. By 6 pm, however, some 90 people had gathered ? the group was about 50/50 Muslim and non-Muslim. The sound system was delivered, the banner proclaiming "Peopleís Immigration Court" was raised, and the program was set to begin. At that moment, however, the mood was sullied as a man driving by shouted out his window: "Death to Arab terrorists, Death to Islamic terrorists." It was surprising that two young women in the group identified the perpetrator as one of their teachers at a local college (the man has been disciplined by his superiors and will not be re-hired).
The mock hearing then began as Nazih Hassan (president of the Muslim Community Association), dressed in scary mask with devilís horns, assumed the role of prosecutor "Darth Vader Ashcroft." He presented a farcical case against Haddad (played by Haddadís friend Homam Albaroudi) in which he presented as "evidence of terrorism" Haddadís beard, skullcap, literature, and ties to a charitable organization. The man playing Haddad was not given the chance to answer any of the prosecutorís questions.
Witnesses for the defense then gave testimony as to Haddadís character. Among the "witnesses" were Haddadís daughter, Sana, who read a poem about her father; and Haddadís wife, Salma al-Rushaid, who read a letter of thanks from her husband to the community. A teacher from the Michigan Islamic Academy described how Haddad had calmed the studentsí fears and attempted to answer their questions following the 9/11 attacks. Other friends of Haddadís also testified as to their feelings toward Haddad and their wishes for his freedom. Alexia Smokler, aide to Rep. John Conyers, made a statement of solidarity on behalf of the Congressman.
After many minutes of moving testimony, I, playing the role of judge (wearing a statue of liberty crown), ruled in favor of Haddad and set him free.
There were several representatives of the media present, including the Ann Arbor News, the Ann Arbor Observer, the Toronto Star, the Detroit Free Press, and the Michigan Daily.
At the close of the rally, everyone headed over to Island Park for the Friendship Picnic. There about 150 people gathered (again about 50/50 Mulsim/non-Muslim) for a sumptuous potluck meal. People made new friends and everyone signed a card for Rabih. The event had a wonderful feel; people were happy to be together. There were songs and a poem. At the close of the program Rabih called on Salmaís cell phone. We were able to place the phone up to the bullhorn and Rabih stated: "Hello everyone. Iím fine." The groupís response was applause and cheers. It was a perfect ending to the evening.
Report from the Bush protest at OSU commencements last weekend.
From the website: http://www.turnyourbackonbush.com/
Ohio State fascism - What happened today
As I sit here before you, I must admit I am truly exhausted from a full day. I've read the thread about Ohio State on LBN, and I am here to tell you it is true...and then some. I'll try to hit all the details.
And what happened to us is truly unbelieveable.
We arrived at Ohio Stadium at 6am. A rally was scheduled at the Jesse Owens memorial site for that time, and the graduates were to be at their places by 630am. Family and friends were permitted to enter at that time as well.
I didn't get close enough to the 6 AM rally, but in my search for an organizer of Turn Your Back On Bush, I did indeed hear the announcement. Graduating students were told that they would be expelled and arrested if they turned their backs. they were alerted that dozens of staff members and police officers would be watching the stands, as well as the Secret Service. A few students asked for the definition of expulsion....did it mean removal from the stadium or refusal of their diplomas, or both? One of the persons at the front said "Both. And what will your parents do when they are paged from the crowd to bail out their son?" I do not know if this person had an official capacity with the Ohio State University or any police department.
I must say, I did not hear that exchange. I was informed of it later when I found outside the stadium protesting. To tell these ADULTS that after 4 years and 80,000 dollars that they would be tossed aside if they didn't face a certain direction?????
I began to wonder how many of those students went to find their friends who were graduating pre-law.....
We entered the stadium later with family and friends, and similar statements swirled around the crowd. "Please make sure you stand and loudly cheer our President. Our graduates have been requested to do the same, and have agreed to give a loud cheer for Mr. Bush", etc.....
Once inside, we decided that it might not be a good idea to be too close to the front. We saw the lines of people waiting to get in the stadium.....and yes, we saw the yellow buses that carted them all in. I asked one of them where they were from. The woman replied "Upper Arlington". However, she could not provide a zip code when I asked her for it (the main zip code for VA is 43221). Figuring on the masses of bussed-in people, we knew it might not be wise to be up front.
We went behind the graduates and looked for peace signs on the mortar boards (a sign that was meant to ID the Turn-Your-Backers). It was really difficult to get an accurate count, but there were a LOT of peace signs. I was sure that we weren't the only ones counting peace signs.
It didn't take long for our stomachs to turn....the first speaker (I believe the OSU President) began spouting about how proud they were to have Bush there. He said "We have a long tradition of inviting great men and women to speak at our commencements." I quickly responded "but since we couldn't get one, here's Georgie".
That got the attention of the state trooper in front of us. His eyes were on me the rest of the time.
The speech continued to mention that Chimpy was "a tireless worker in the field of education" and "a man who unified this country after the terrible events of 9/11". It was interesting to note that it took a LONG time for the 9/11 applause to turn into a standing ovation....they held out for that one, not continuing the speech intentionally.
About 10 minutes later, Shrub was introduced to speak. Before he even got to the stage, we did our about-face. I looked over my shoulder to see how many graduates were doing the same. However, everybody was standing at that point, and in pure black robes, it was impossible to see who was facing what direction. Furthermore, over that same shoulder, I saw one of Columbus' Finest heading our way.
We never got to see how many students participated. We were being led out of Ohio Stadium. To the officers' credit, he realized there was a 3-year-old in my arms and was not at all hostile. I asked him if I was under arrest, and he did not answer me. When we reached the exit, I asked the SS man why we had been ejected, and he told me we were being charged with disturbing the peace. If we chose to leave, the charges would be dropped immediately.
With our daughter in mind, we chose not to fight it. I am sure we will regret it someday when Bush's fabulous economy strikes us and we need a few million in a lawsuit. But our daughter did not need any more irritation on this day.
On this day, June 14th, 2002, I came to the realization that we no longer live in a free society. This is rapidly heading in the same way Nazi Germany headed. Questioning our leaders is no longer the most outrageous crime you can be charged with. Not paying attention to them is.
As you take in this message I give to you, I would like to add a footnote. Next time, I will not leave quietly. Next time, I will not allow you to intimidate my fellow Americans who wish to speak out. Next time I will not be so blind when I confront you. Next time we meet, I will have more people with me to oppose you. Next time, I will have brought voter registration cards for people whose eyes I will open to your oppression.
And next time, I will have a babysitter.
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