Egyptian clerics denied entry at Miami airport included speaker at Islamic Center of Boca Raton fundraiser which included head of raided 'charity"
September 24, 2006
MIM: One of the clerics who denied entry into the U.S. was Hamdy Salama, who spoke at a fundraiser at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, which also included Khalil Jassemm,the head of Life for Relief and Development. LFRD was raided this week by the FBI and JTTF, and whose board member, the Imam of an Ann Arbor mosque, was found with $136,000 dollars in his house and Iraqi army medals.
LFRD was also named on the Al Qaeda Kavkaz website and a 'charity' worth donating to.
In his usual hyperbolic style Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, the head of AMANA, explained that not having the terror linked Imams in the United States would mean that Muslim youth were being denied the chance to hear moderates. Zakkout's depiction of the four Imams as non extremist should be seen in the light of the fact that Zakkout placed the father of dirty bomber wannabe Adhan Shukrijumah (Gulshair Shukrijumah) as a director of Masjid Shamshuddin,the mosque connected to and directly across the street from the AMANA office.
U.S. Officials hold four Muslim scholars at airport return them to Egypt
By Ruth Morris
September 21, 2006Federal immigration authorities held four Muslim scholars for 24 hours at Miami International Airport, denying them access to a bed or a phone, then sent them back to Egypt without a clear explanation for their removal, an American Muslim association charged Wednesday.
Sofian Abdelaziz, director of the American Muslim Association of North America in Miami, said his group had invited the four to lead prayers at mosques in Broward and Miami-Dade counties during the holy month of Ramadan, which starts Sunday.
He called the incident an "outrage," and said it thwarted efforts to expose Muslim youths to religious leaders who reject the extremist views that have inspired terrorists. During Ramadan, observant Muslims fast from dawn to dusk to focus energy on their inner faith.
"I consider this a big disaster for our community this year," Abdelaziz said. "We are against extremism, and we are not dealing with sheiks and imams who have a policy to teach extremism ... We lost four good educators."
Abdelaziz said his organization had sponsored similar visits during Ramadan for the past seven years, without any visa hitches.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents can deny admission to visitors for a variety or reasons, but do not generally comment on those decisions.
Zachary Mann, a spokesman for the agency, said the four men voluntarily withdrew their applications for admission.
He said visitors with valid visas might be deemed "inadmissible" on security grounds or because of health considerations, among other reasons. Airline schedules could delay sending inadmissible visitors home, Mann added.
Arab and Muslim organizations have complained that their members are singled out for exhaustive airport checks and interviews, particularly in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Others say the increased scrutiny is a necessary precaution, not discrimination.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a report two weeks ago showing that incidents of anti-Muslim discrimination were on the rise in South Florida and nationwide, with reports varying from graffiti and vandalism at mosques to pressure for women not to cover their heads at work.
Abdelaziz said immigration authorities treated the Egyptian scholars disrespectfully by leaving them sitting in chairs for a day, with no place to lie down. He said he waited for the men for seven hours at the airport on Monday, then received a call from them as they boarded their return flight Tuesday afternoon -- 24 hours later. They could not communicate what was happening because authorities did not let them use a phone, Abdelaziz said.
The four men were Hamdi Salama, Ayman Al Wahab, Zain Alabedeen, and Sami Faraj, all Egyptian religious scholars. Salama made a similar voyage to the United States last year and stayed for two months.
Mann defended immigration agents, saying they offered the Egyptian scholars food and water regularly. He said the agency "strives to treat all travelers with respect and in a professional manner, while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the United States."
Ruth Morris can be reached at [email protected] or 305-810-5012.