FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Nightmarish Case of Fahad Hashmi

During Barack Obama’s inauguration speech, it was striking to hear him declare that “we are a nation of Christians and Muslims”–indicating that both have the right to live and practice their religions in America, free from discrimination.

However, for Arabs and Muslims who have faced racism, religious discrimination, and unjustified arrests and detention under the auspices of “fighting terrorism,” the Obama’s administration’s commitment to the “war on terror” would seem to be in contradiction with that idea.

This contradiction is exemplified in cases like Fahad Hashmi.

Hashmi is a 29-year-old Pakistani man who received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Brooklyn College in 2003 and his master’s degree in international relations from London Metropolitan University in 2006.

In 2004, he allowed an acquaintance, Junaid Babar, to stay at his London apartment for two weeks. While there, Babar kept raincoats and waterproof socks in his luggage, which the U.S. alleges he later gave to a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda.

Simply because of this–raincoats and socks–Hashmi was arrested by British police at London’s Heathrow Airport on June 6, 2006, and charged with providing material support to al-Qaeda. He was not accused of providing money or resources to al-Qaeda, or personally giving anything at all to any member of al-Qaeda, or o being a terrorist himself. Yet he was held in the general prison population of Belmarsh Prison in England for 11 months, and then extradited to the United States, where he has been held in solitary confinement for over a year.

Fahad has been subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), which are designed to prevent crimes from being planned from within prisons. Although he is not charged with any acts of violence, nor has he been accused of attempting to contact any terrorists while in prison, he has been forced to endure a 23-hour-a-day lockdown; is only allowed one visit from an immediate family member per week, with no physical contact permitted; and is not allowed contact with anyone else other than his lawyer and prison officials.

The SAMs also prohibit Fahad’s family members from passing any messages between him and his friends, restrict what reading material he is permitted to see, and dictate that he may not listen to or watch the news or participate in group prayer.

At a hearing on January 23, a judge heard a motion to improve the conditions of Fahad’s imprisonment by increasing his visitation rights to two hours per week, allowing him to participate in communal prayer, and granting him access to exercise and recreation facilities.

Negotiations about visitation rights are ongoing, but the other requests were denied since the court had already ruled that the government’s “security concerns” were justified, and the SAMs have already been extended for a second year.

During this hearing, the prosecution claimed that Fahad was practicing shadow-boxing and martial arts in his cell, and that, when asked by a guard what he was doing, Fahad replied, “Practicing for you.” Prosecutors said that when he was asked to stop, he refused. This example was used to demonstrate that Fahad is, in fact, a “security risk.”

However, Fahad says that he was never told to stop, and that he didn’t say that he was practicing to attack the guards–but instead, that the guards taunted him by asking if he was practicing for them. There are videotapes of this incident that could easily be used to clarify what really happened, but the tapes are not being made available to the court.

Around 40 supporters attended Fahad’s latest hearing, including members of the Brooklyn College Islamic Society, the Muslim Justice Initiative/Free Fahad Campaign, Fahad’s family and friends, and political activists.

Given the court’s intransigence in spite of the weak evidence against Fahad and strong support for him, it is clear that we must raise the profile of this case and amplify our outrage. Even while we celebrate victories like the closing of the U.S. prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, it is crucial that we fight the domestic repercussions of the “war on terror,” which are still ongoing.

Taking a stand against the profiling of Arabs and Muslims is more urgent than ever, and justice for Fahad Hashmi is a fight we should be able to win.

Doug Singsen contributed to this article.

ALANA SMITH writes for the Socialist Worker.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail