Detained Ann Arbor Muslim leader Rabih Haddad gained the city”s support yesterday evening after City Council members approved by a partisan 9-2 vote a resolution proposed by community members requesting due process and open hearings for his case.
Haddad, co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity suspected to have terrorist ties, was arrested Dec. 14 by the Immigration and Naturalization Service for an expired visa and is being held at the Monroe County Jail.
An immigration judge denied Haddad bond at a Jan. 2 hearing because it was ruled that as the owner of a licensed hunting rifle, Haddad posed a threat to society. An appeal has been scheduled for Thursday.
Councilman Christopher Easthope (D-5th Ward) said the city had an obligation to address and pass the resolution based on the needs of the community.
“This resolution recognizes the concerns of our Islamic community,” Easthope said. “That”s not just an obligation of our federal government.”
In a presentation to the council, community members stressed that the handling of Haddad”s case had been “un-American” and contrary to the fundamental values and liberties set forth by the U.S. Constitution.
Phillis Engelbert, a representative from the Ann Arbor Ad Hoc Committee for Peace, said due process and equal protection for citizens were issues the city needed to stress to other government agencies. “This is Haddad”s 25th day behind bars our 25th day of uncertainty of what America is becoming,” Engelbert said. “We have before us a local issue with national implications.”
The terms of Haddad”s arrest and detainment were also major concerns to community members, since Haddad”s bond hearings had been closed to the public and media. Also in contention is the expiration of Haddad”s visa, despite his application for permanent residency in 2000.
Human Rights Commission Chair Helen Fox, urged council members to make the proposed resolution personal and to directly name Haddad.
Councilwoman Jean Carlberg (D-3rd Ward) said although the United States is fighting terrorism outside of the country, it may be causing a different kind of terrorism within its borders.
“The issue of terrorism effects everyone individually and personally,” Carlberg said. “We are in a very difficult time in this country.” And when human and civil rights for any member of this community are denied, “we lose ultimately,” she said.
Councilman Joseph Upton (R-2nd Ward) said he opposed the resolution because it should be dealt with on a federal level.
But six-year councilwoman Cowing Herrell (D-3rd Ward) could not agree. Herrell said when she joined the council she took an oath to uphold the Constitution.
“A citizen has been denied due process. I think it is directly our responsibility,” Herrell said.