Despite a request from Michigan Student Assembly President Matt Nolan not to consider the issue, the MSA voted last night 294 to support Ann Arbor Muslim leader Rabih Haddad”s right to a fair trial.
The MSA statement urges the U.S. government and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to follow the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to a public and speedy trial.
The resolution also allocates $500 to fund a symposium about the case tonight featuring U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Ann Arbor) and a representative from the ACLU of Michigan. The event begins at 8 p.m. in the Michigan Union Ballroom.
LSA senior Reza Breakstone said the resolution was necessary because hearings for Haddad, the co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity with suspected terrorist ties, have not been open to the public and the media.
“What we”re saying is let”s give this person in the United States due process, which everyone has the right to,” said Breakstone. “The rules are not being followed, and we”re asking MSA to support rules being followed.”
But Nolan and several other MSA representatives felt the council should not vote on the issue. Nolan said an MSA statement would create tension among University students and would not affect the U.S. government”s actions.
“MSA should only deal with issues that we can directly impact and change,” Nolan said.
“While it is an issue the students feel strongly about, if MSA would take a stance on every issue students feel strongly about, we would have 100 resolutions every week, and all we would do is fight these issues instead of focusing on what we can change,” he added.
LSA Rep. Kristin Harris, co-sponsor of the MSA resolution, said University students should debate U.S. politics because of the impact government policies have on everyday life.
“It”s a very real political situation, and for us as a body not to recognize that is foolish,” she said.
Regardless of debate over the need for an MSA resolution regarding Haddad, the issue of his detainment has generated tremendous local attention.
Last week, the Ann Arbor City Council passed a similar resolution, and two members of Congress, Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), have spoken out against Haddad”s detainment.
While numerous student constituents came to the meeting in support of the resolution, no one opposed Haddad”s right to a fair trial.
LSA senior Eric Feldman was the only constituent who opposed the resolution. He said the issue of Haddad”s trial is divided between protection of civil rights and national security, and MSA does not have enough information about the legal proceedings or constitutional knowledge to make a judgment.
“You have been asked to interpret the constitution, to try the U.S. government as if you are a jury,” said Feldman.
At the meeting, MSA also passed a resolution providing funding to the V-Day College Initiative, which on Valentine”s Day holds an annual rally against violence to women.