Sami Al-Arian at Berkeley Palestinian Solidarity Conference
by Labor Video Project + SF-IMC Tuesday February 19, 2002 at 04:27 AM
email@example.com P.O. Box 42558, San Francisco, CA 94142
At a conference at UC Berkeley on 2/16, Prof. Sami Al-Arian called for solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against the occupation, and spoke out against the repressive, discriminatory tactics of the "J. Edgar Ashcroft" regime. 20 minute MP3.
audio: MPEG video at 8.4 mebibytes
Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a Professor of Computer Science and longtime advocate of Palestinian rights, spoke at the National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement in Berkeley on Saturday, 16 February 2002. A decades-long media smear campaign against Dr. Al-Arian culminated in his receiving notice "of intent to terminate" from the University of South Florida (USF) this past December, due to the disruption – death threats, declining alumni association rolls, etc. – which resulted from his appearance on FOX TV's "The O'Reilly Factor" on 26 September. Related links: • Greens warn that accusations of "terrorism" are eroding rights and freedoms (SF Indymedia, 12 Feb 02) • 2/15-18: Palestine Solidarity Movement Nat'l Student Conf. (SF Indymedia, 10 Feb 02) • "Sami Al-Arian: Victim of Intolerance or Threat to a University's Stability?" Chronicle of Higher Education Interview (06 Feb 02) • By pandering to anti-Arab hysteria, NBC, Fox News, Media General and Clear Channel radio disgraced themselves -- and ruined an innocent professor's life (Salon, 19 Jan 02) • Al-Arian's firing harkens back to segregation (St. Pete. Times, 22 Dec 01) • USF Moves to Fire Al-Arian (St. Pete. Times, 20 Dec 01) • USF News Releases (19 Dec 01) • Opinion: "Behind Al-Arian's Facade" (St. Pete. Times, 01 Nov 01) • College staff find chilling free speech climate (SF Indymedia, 14 Oct 01) • UCLA e-mail poster loses one-week's pay (SF Indymedia, 09 Oct 01) • Interview by FOX's Bill O'Reilly with Tampa reporter and American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (02 Oct 01) • Press Release by Dr. Al-Arian (Tampa Bay Online, 29 Sep 01) • Ongoing Al-Arian Smear-Campaign: "Linked to Enemies of America" (Smartertimes, 29 Jun 01) • Sami's home page at USF
Salon.com takes NBC, Fox News, Media General, and Clear Channel radio to task for pandering to anti-Arab hysteria and ruining the life of an innocent professor. These influential news organizations dredged up allegations that an Islamic think tank Al-Arian founded was tied to terrorist activities, a charge that resulted in the University of South Florida firing the tenured Computer Science professor. But those allegations were thoroughly investigated and rejected years ago, Boehlert points out. "The Al-Arian story reveals what happens when journalists, abandoning their role as unbiased observers, lead an ignorant, alarmist crusade against suspicious foreigners who in a time of war don't have the power of the press or public sympathy to fight back. It's called a pile-on, and this game first began in Tampa, seven years ago."
--Sara V. Buckwitz
The authorities in the United States have arrested a Palestinian university professor suspected of having links to terrorist groups.
Sami al-Arian - who taught at a Florida university - is one of several people arrested in the US and abroad, the FBI said.
The charges against him are to be released at a court appearance later on Thursday.
Mr al-Arian has been under investigation since the early 1990s when he co-founded a now defunct Islamic studies think-tank, which the US Government considered a frontline organisation that raised funds for the Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad.
He has denied any links to terrorists and told reporters "it's all about politics," as he was led away in handcuffs.
US Attorney General John Ashcroft is due to give more details on the arrests on Thursday.
Mr al-Arian is one of three people arrested in Florida, a fourth in Chicago, and an undisclosed number arrested overseas, FBI spokeswoman Sara Oates said.
A spokesman for the US attorney's office in Tampa, Florida, Steve Cole, said the arrests were related.
Mr al-Arian, who has lived in the United States since 1975, had never been charged with a crime.
He was banned from the University of South Florida grounds - where he taught computer engineering - after the 11 September attacks in a controversial decision condemned by human rights groups.
Mr al-Arian and his brother-in-law, Mazen al-Najjar, founded the World and Islam Studies Enterprises, raided by the FBI in 1995.
Mr al-Najjar - who also taught at the same university - was kept been detained without charge for about five years before being deported from the US last August.
The academic caused controversy after being taped at a conference saying "Death to Israel" in Arabic.
But he has denied having any ties to terrorist groups and has denied supporting Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
And he argues he is being discriminated for his political beliefs.
"I'm an Arab, I'm Palestinian, I'm a Muslim. That's not a popular thing to be these days," he said last year when Mr al-Najjar was deported.
"Do I have rights or don't I have rights?
"Right now it seems like a majority of the people think 'No, you don't have rights because you don't agree with us.'
"We will continue to fight this. I believe the issue is still academic freedom, the right to espouse views however unpopular," he vowed then.
Sami al-Arian: The 'banned professor'
Sami al-Arian, who has been arrested in the United States for alleged links to terror groups, is no stranger to controversy.
The 44-year-old computer science professor is locked in a long-running dispute with his university, in what has become a prominent battle over academic freedom.
The father of five has been banned from his university for allegedly raising money for terror groups - a charge he has denied.
And, last month the University of South Florida went to court in an attempt to have the professor removed permanently - a move that has been condemned by the American Association of University Professors as an attack on academic freedom.