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Defend civil liberties

By Daniel Kiros | February 22, 2002 | Page 10

CHICAGO--More than 100 people rallied February 12 to protest the detention of Arabs and Muslims, including Rabih Haddad.

Muslim cleric and community activist Rabih Haddad from Ann Arbor, Mich., was arrested after government agents invaded his home soon after September 11. He was taken into custody and transferred to the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center last month.

As part of the "war on terrorism," the U.S. has detained hundreds of "suspects" on unknown charges and alleged "visa violations." The demonstration held in front of the INS office in downtown Chicago was called by a coalition of antiwar, civil liberties and Arab and Muslim organizations.

Haddad, a native of Lebanon who has lived in Ann Arbor for more than two years, was arrested the same day that federal agents raided the offices of Illinois charity Global Relief Foundation, which he helped to start.

The Ann Arbor News and a Detroit newspaper have sued the federal government in an effort to open court hearings for the jailed Muslim leader. The lawsuit says Justice Department officials and federal immigration judges violated the U.S. Constitution by closing court proceedings against Haddad to the press and public.

At a previous protest in Chicago, Melinda Power of the National Lawyers Guild condemned both Haddad's transfer from a Michigan facility near his family and his detention in Chicago. She described his incarceration as a gross violation of due process and civil liberties and an example of the kind of dangerous excesses the government continues to commit under the name of the "war on terrorism."

Protesters at the February 12 rally vowed to keep the pressure on immigration officials until they reveal the names of detainees and what they're charged with and until they open the Haddad case to the public.

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