In response to the continued detainment of an Ann Arbor Muslim leader after his arrest last month by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, community members will gather tonight at the Ann Arbor City Council meeting to encourage council members to push for his release.

Rabih Haddad, co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity, was arrested Dec. 14 and is being held without bond at the Monroe County jail. He could face deportation for having an expired visa.

“There”s a human side to this that gets bulldozed,” Islamic Center Board of Trustees Tariq Colvin said. “He was arrested in front of his kids just before one of the most important festivals in the Muslim year, at the end of Ramadan. He spent that time in jail. Imagine taking someone”s dad before Christmas and New Year”s.”

Federal agents raided the group”s headquarters in Illinois the same day Haddad was detained. The organization materialized on a White House terrorism watch list two years ago as one of two U.S.-based charities with possible connections to terrorism.

“The suspicion is that money from GRF had been funneled to terrorist organizations,” Colvin said. “But the U.N. gives aid that sometimes is given to other countries. Some of that aid can and will go to other (unauthorized) organizations. I don”t think it”s fair to levy that standard against GRF or any smaller organization.”

At closed bond hearings on Dec. 19 and Jan. 2, a federal immigration judge denied Haddad bond indefinitely. An appeal has been scheduled for Thursday.

Haddad”s attorney, Ashraf Nubani, said his client came to the United States in 1998 from Lebanon on a tourist visa and had applied for permanent resident status through labor certification and employment sponsorship. Nubani said Haddad was refused bond because he was considered a flight risk since he had purchased a hunting rifle.

“There have been no official charges and no evidence,” Colvin said. “No argument has been given except for the fact that the INS keeps harping on the gun he owns. It”s totally licensed. He is an avid hunter. Does that make him a criminal?”

Nubani said his client should be protected from prosecution for that violation because of his pending application for permanent residency.

Colvin said following the appeal, the INS will most likely move to deport Haddad. The goal for community members this evening is to make Haddad”s case a part of the discussion.

“There are probably more than 500 people like him across the nation,” he said. “We”re trying to raise public awareness. The only defense these people have is publicity.”

Nazih Hassan, vice president of the Muslim Community Association for Ann Arbor said the government has used excessive and unnecessary tactics in handling Haddad”s case and has failed to grant him due process.

“We have very grave concerns for the fact that he is being held, denied bond, and that his hearings were closed,” Hassan said.

Hassan said the judge claimed in an opinion that Haddad had no strong ties to the community.

“When hundreds of people are outside in the freezing cold to support him that”s just incredible,” Hassan said of a rally in Detroit outside Haddad”s Jan. 2 hearing. “He has very strong ties to the community both the Muslim and the general community. He”s somebody who in his public speeches has always called for helping people.”

Hassan said deportation of Haddad would be a great loss to the community, especially after the contributions he made following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“He spoke at our open house and at the town hall meeting,” Hassan said. “We send him to seminars. He is a mentor in our youth mentoring network. On that level, he will be a great loss.”

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