Posted by: alwanforthearts | June 23, 2011

Event Follow Up: Detained Without Cause, Summary and Reactions

Last night Alwan hosted a four person panel to discuss the racial and religious profiling of muslims and arabs in the United States after the September 11th attacks.The panel included Dr. Irum Sheikh, the author of the new book Detained Without Cause: Muslims’ Stories of Detention and Deportation in America after 9/11. Joining her was Sandra Nichol, a private practice attorney working in NYC who specializes in immigration cases, and Martin Stolar, well known NY attorney and former president of the NYC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. The panel was moderated by Adem Carroll, a relief coordinator for Islamic circle of north America.

Event Summary

Dr. Irum Shiekh, a filmmaker and scholar, discussed her newly published book, Detained Without Cause: Muslims’ Stories of Detention and Deportation in America after 9/11, published in 2011, alongside New York City attorneys Sandra Nichols and Martin Stolar and mediated by Adem Carroll.

Dr. Irum Shiekh presented various cases of Muslim Americans, from her book, who have faced severe charges for minor crimes ranging from expired visas to unpaid penalties.  The subjects have been either incarcerated in high-security prisons or endured physical abuse and torture by the mere fact of them being Muslims.  Through the means of oral history, Dr. Shiekh denounced the bigotry and racial discrimination and profiling that has plagued the United States since the events of 9/11.

Renowned New York City attorney Martin Stolar, highlighted a parallel between today’s racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs and the internment and racism against the Japanese-Americans during WWII or the repressive discrimination against Communists during the McCarthyist decade. He also brought up the degrading conditions in which these detainees were kept, in many cases far outweighing the harm of their non-existent or very petty crimes. Some of the men were put into solitary confinement and shackled, and another was held for 15 months for a negligible offense. Mr. Stolar also made apparent the justice systems exploitation of the legal structure to detain men that would have otherwise been free to appear before a court by order of supine.

Attorney Sandra Nichols attested to the unfair extra-judicial measures that are taken against Muslims in the United States by relating a few of her clients’ experiences. The consequences of law-enforcers actions on these men were harmful and far-reaching, most of them were deported and many still live in shame having been forced to leave the country. There are actions being taken against the unfairness of these situations such as lawsuits and detainees recounting their story, yet there is no strong or united movement to demand justice or reparation on their part, and most victims still keep their grievances under silence.


After the event we asked some guests for their reactions to the panel discussion on this important topic:

“It was very interesting to finally hear people stand up for the rights of minorities and realize how fallacious the american model is. I was very moved by this event. It was not anything brand new, but it was very interesting” – Hélène Barthélemy

“It was extremely informative, I learned a lot. Some of the stories about the detainees were extremely moving and touching and I feel inspired to do something.” – Colin Stokes

“I think it was extremely interesting, I think it was really interesting as well that most of the people on the panel were not muslims so to see that it was not something only for the muslim minority but that it was also something coming from the entire city and the US and that people were complaining about it is something really really good.” – Julia Hug

“I was pretty shocked by the sub-human treatment of the detainees and how widespread the fear and paranoia towards Muslim-Americans was and continues to be. The degree to which people acted on their gut fear and ignored the legitimate justice system was horrifying.” – Bahij Chancey

“I was particularly impressed with Martin Stolar’s lucidity vis-à-vis the American Justice system and his unwavering and passionate devotion to justice and ethics.  This panel was a breath of fresh air in a putrid world of bigotry.” –Alia Massoud

Full Event Video

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