FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 25, 2019
Marc Levy
All My Vexes Are in Texas
Jim Kavanagh
Avoiding Assange
Michael D. Yates
The Road Beckons
Julian Vigo
Notre Dame Shows the Unifying Force of Culture, Grenfell Reveals the Corruption of Government
Ted Rall
Democratic Refusal to Impeach Could Be Disastrous
Tracey Harris
Lessons Learned From the Tiny House Movement
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Human Flourishing (Eudaimonia): an Antidote to Extinction?
Dana Johnson
Buyer Beware: Hovercraft Ruling Deals a Major Blow to Land Conservation in Alaska
Norman Solomon
Joe Biden: Puffery vs. Reality
Jen Marlowe
The Palestine Marathon
Binoy Kampmark
Lethal Bungling: Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings
Michael Slager
“Where’s Your Plan?” Legalized Bribery and Climate Change
Jesse Jackson
Trump Plunges the US Deeper Into Forgotten Wars
George Wuerthner
BLM Grazing Decision Will Damage the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness
April 24, 2019
Susan Babbitt
Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story
Adam Jonas Horowitz
Letter to the Emperor
Lawrence Davidson
A Decisive Struggle For Our Future
John Steppling
The Mandate for Israel: Keep the Arabs Down
Victor Grossman
Many Feet
Cira Pascual Marquina
The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune
Binoy Kampmark
Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli
Dean Baker
Payments to Hospitals Aren’t Going to Hospital Buildings
Alvaro Huerta
Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA
Colin Todhunter
As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?
Charlie Gers
Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Just Another Spring in Progress?
Thomas Knapp
On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Bolton
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail