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Victim of feds' witch-hunt
Detained for being a political activist

By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor | June 7, 2002 | Page 2

AN ARAB student and activist at the University of Illinois in downstate Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) was picked up by the FBI in late May and turned over to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials.

A few weeks ago, Ahmed Bensouda was questioned by the INS as part of the Justice Department's latest round of post-September 11 "interviews" with young Arab men. Now INS officials say that they're detaining Bensouda because of problems with his student visa--while also disputing that Bensouda was a student at UIUC for the past two years.

Bensouda's supporters say that he graduated with a degree in political science just last month--and that he's being detained not because of a visa violation, but because of his prominence as an activist.

Bensouda is from the United Arab Emirates and has been active with the Israel Divestment Campaign--a campus group dedicated to pressuring the university board of trustees to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

Bensouda has told friends that he has been subjected to racial slurs and repeated questioning about his political ideas. And the day after his arrest, INS officials returned to Bensouda's apartment to download files from his computer.

Unfortunately, Bensouda has declined legal representation in the hopes of negotiating his deportation--and has told supporters to hold off on a political campaign on his behalf. But the feds certainly aren't holding off on their racist witch-hunt.

This is only the latest detention of an Arab political activist for no other reason than their skin color. We can't let John Ashcroft shred our rights.

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