As Ann Arbor Muslim leader Rabih Haddad remains held in solitary confinement at the Chicago Metropolitan Correction Center, his lawyers have begun to question whether he is receiving equal treatment in jail.
Faced with a visa violation charge, Haddad might also have to go before a grand jury soon, where questions may arise regarding his charity, the Global Relief Foundation, and its possible connections to terrorism.
Nazih Hassan, a close friend of the Haddad family and vice president of the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor, said Haddad has been allotted 15 minutes a month to talk to his wife and four children. Since he was transferred to federal custody over two weeks ago, he has only spoken to his family once.
“I think that this is bordering on being inhumane. We don”t understand why he can”t at least speak to his wife and children on a daily basis,” Hassan said.
Haddad talks to his lawyers twice a week, although he is permitted to speak with them every day. However, his head attorney Ashraf Nubani says that it is difficult for Haddad to make calls. He must ask the guards for permission before he is escorted to the phone and is strip-searched once he returns to his cell.
“Anyone held in federal custody wouldn”t be treated like this,” Nubani said.
Haddad”s family, friends and supporters say they are outraged by his treatment in jail. Michelle Mercier, an Ann Arbor Muslim who used to work in a correctional facility, said she has never witnessed such stringent regulations, even at high-security prisons.
“To be told he can only use it to talk to his family 15 minutes out of the month is highly unusual,” Mercier said.
Nubani said he was told Haddad is being held in administrative detention, which includes solitary confinement, because he is a “special interest case.” However, the U.S. Attorney”s Office for the Northern District of Illinois would not go into more depth about Haddad”s treatment in jail or about the case.
“I think we all need to wake up to what”s going on right now,” said Jeri Schneider, a member of the Ann Arbor Chapter of the American Friends Service Committee.