The future for Rabih Haddad and his family remains uncertain as the local Muslim leader, arrested on charges of a visa violation, enters his sixth week in detainment. Haddad”s wife, Salma Al-Rushaid, testified last week on Capitol Hill in front of a panel of the House Judiciary Committee.
Haddad”s lawyer, Ashraf Nubani, said that Al-Rushaid”s testimony although short was comforting to other Americans who were in a similar predicament.
“She voiced solidarity with the hundreds of others who are in the same situation as her,” Nubani said.
Nubani also said he felt somewhat optimistic about the hearing and the reaction to Al-Rushaid”s situation.
“The congresspersons indicate that there will be continuous efforts to watch what is going on,” he said.
Haddad has been incarcerated since Jan. 17 at the Chicago Metropolitan Corrections Center after being held in Monroe and Detroit. While he is scheduled to have another hearing Feb. 19 in Detroit, he may be subpoenaed to go before a grand jury at an undisclosed date.
The grand jury may ask questions about the charity that he co-established, the Global Relief Foundation, and its possible connections to terrorist activities.
Al-Rushaid”s testimony Thursday was only one plea for help.
The American Civil Liberties Union and David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University, complained about the new legislation including the Patriot Act and its effects on immigration and racial minorities.
They also questioned Attorney General John Ashcroft”s credo that “dissent is comforting to our enemies.”
Passed by Congress last year, the Patriot Act gives the Justice Department more leeway in identifying and prosecuting terrorists.
Congressional response to Thursday”s hearing was very much sympathetic to the testimonies of the people present including Al-Rushaid.
Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.) said he felt that the hearing further informed him about the ramifications of the Patriot Act and convinced him that the committee should look into some of the government”s actions in all cases pertaining to immigration and race.
“It certainly appeared that they were overreacting in a number of incidents,” said Watt.
Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), who has been a vocal opponent of the Patriot Act, called on the government to end the process of destroying civil liberties of Americans.
“It is up to us to remind the Bush administration that the Constitution applies just as forcefully after September 11 as it did before September 11,” he said.