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News and reports

December 12, 2003 | Pages 14 and 15

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
No to occupation and empire
Critical Resistance

Free Farouk!
By Lee Wengraf

NEW YORK--Prison guards assaulted longtime Palestinian activist Farouk Abdel-Muhti November 19. The guards were carrying out a search of immigrant detainees' cells in the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, N.J., when they found leftwing and revolutionary publications. The two officers began to attack Abdel-Muhti, calling the publications "anti-government" and telling him to "shut the fuck up" and "go back to Palestine."

The officers then pushed Abdel-Muhti against the wall, kicked him to the ground and punched him in the head. They confiscated his personal property, including papers, address books and prescription medicine. Prison authorities then filed a disciplinary report against him. Abdel-Muhti is 56 years old, in poor health and was denied his medication for at least five days after he was attacked.

Nineteen months ago, Abdel-Muhti was arrested under the same repressive rules established by the Department of Homeland Security that have led to the detention and deportation of thousands of immigrants--mainly Muslims and Arabs--since September 11. Immigration authorities claim that Abdel-Muhti violated a 1995 deportation order, but Abdel-Muhti was targeted because he is an outspoken critic of U.S. support for Israel's occupation of Palestine.

Most recently, Abdel-Muhti had a radio show on Pacifica network's local station during which he was broadcasting interviews with residents of the Occupied Territories. The Committee to Free Farouk recently held a rally in Newark, N.J., to keep the pressure on. Don't let the authorities keep this fighter behind bars!

Demand Abdel-Muhti's release by contacting David Venturella at the Office of Detention and Removal--by phone at 202-514-8663, by fax at 202-353-9435 or by e-mail at [email protected] Send a copy to [email protected]

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No to occupation and empire

NEW YORK--More than 300 people gathered at Barnard College to hear author Tariq Ali and others speak out against U.S. empire. Ali spoke about the Iraqi resistance to occupation and argued for building "the broadest possible front against empire." He pointed out that while the situation in Iraq is not identical to the Vietnam War, "once you start to occupy a country, the pattern of resistance is the same."

Tariq was joined by Lou Plummer of Military Families Speak Out, Sarah Zaidi from the Center for Economic and Social Rights and Meredith Kolodner of the ISO. Lou described the impact of the war on his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C., near Fort Bragg and argued that "you can't rebuild a country from behind a machine gun."

At Columbia University, more than 40 students attended a debate on the question "Should U.S. troops leave Iraq?" Representatives of the College Democrats, the ISO, the College Republicans and the Columbia University Antiwar Coalition took part in the debate. The debate ended with a closing poll that showed the majority of the audience opposed to the occupation, while a handful of students wrote that their opinions shifted during the debate.

Laura Durkay, Lee Wengraf and Suzie Schwartz contributed to this report.

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Critical Resistance
By Alan Wallis

NEW YORK--City cops descended on the offices of a civil rights group November 16, starting a melee that ended in numerous injuries and eight people under arrest. The police showed up at the Critical Resistance space in Brooklyn as a fundraising party for an anarchist conference was taking place.

According to Mayuran Tiruchelvan, who was interviewed on the left-wing radio program Democracy Now!, three plainclothes detectives entered the space at 2 a.m.--supposedly responding to a report of someone standing outside with an open container of alcohol--and took one person outside to put him under arrest. When several people went outside to find out what was going on, within seconds two dozen police cars arrived.

The police then began indiscriminately clubbing and punching people, and, according to the Critical Resistance Web site, police sprayed about 20 people with chemical agents. Arrestees were charged with inciting a riot, obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct--and several had to be treated for a number of serious injuries, including a spinal injury and severe blows to the head.

Tiruchelvan speculated that the brutal assault took place because Critical Resistance is organizing protests during the Republican National Convention in New York City next September. The arrestees will appear December 18 at Brooklyn Criminal Court, 120 Schermerhorn St., Room AP-2, at 9 a.m. Critical Resistance is hoping for a good turnout of supporters.

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