Rabih Haddad, a leader of the Ann Arbor Muslim community, was arrested on Dec. 14 by the Immigration and Naturalization Service on charges of overstaying his tourist visa. Since then he has been detained and has been denied bond on two separate occasions, the latest reasons proferred by the court being risk of flight and danger to society.

Haddad has visited the U.S. off and on for more then a decade and in that time has founded the Global Relief Foundation, taught at a local Islamic school, served as assistant to the leader of Ann Arbor”s mosque and applied for permanent residency.

While it is within INS jurisdiction to arrest or detain visitors for overstaying visas, the elements of secret evidence, racial profiling and inconsistency indicate justice is not being served in this case.

During the first of the bond hearings, held on Dec. 19, the INS did not provide any witnesses, while Haddad had several character witnesses. As a result, the hearing was delayed until Jan. 2 at which point he was denied bond. On neither occasions was the public allowed into the courtroom.

One of the main concerns of the court is that Haddad will flee the country if released. The argument that Haddad is a flight risk is illogical because ostensibly the INS wants to deport him. That Haddad has a home, family and job in the area also makes it seem unlikely that he will flee.

The reasons the INS is withholding bond should not be kept from the public, the courts and Haddad himself. The INS had no witnesses against him, nor any evidence secret or otherwise and whatever the INS has come up with since December has been hidden in the closed bond hearings.

There is also the coincidence that Haddad was arrested the same day the charity he founded, Global Relief Foundation, was shut down and its assets were frozen. This raises suspicion that a visa violation is not the reason for his arrest but perhaps is a cover for something else, some other perceived illegality which has been disclosed to neither Haddad nor the public.

The government purports links to terrorism as the reasons it has shutdown GRF and two other Muslim charities in the past month, although again, evidence has not been put forth in step with the relaxation of disclosure that the Patriot Act allows.

Although the three charities have been inconclusively investigated for years, it is suspicious that the government acted only after Sept. 11 and the Patriot Act.

While the government warns that terrorism will undermine democracy and freedom, it should take care to uphold the civil liberties that are fudamental to those values.

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