Category Archives: Chicago
By Remal Hindi
When people think of Thanksgiving, they think of how much food they will eat, the outfits they’ll wear, football, and of course, Black Friday. Despite its more superficial modern associations, the essence of Thanksgiving is universal, and has spiritual significance that reflects values of people from all faiths.
“Odeh doesn’t have ties to the Chicago community. She has apparently done good work at the Arab American Action Network, but that work is not a substantial tie to the community. She could do this in another country.” With those words, U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain wiped away Rasmea Odeh’s 20 years of work in Chicago being an advocate for Arab and Muslim women’s rights. The twenty Arab and Muslim women sitting in the front rows who had come to court as representatives of Odeh’s 600 member women’s group were erased as if they did not exist. This statement was only one of many that demonstrated Judge Drain’s disdain for Odeh’s position as a well-loved Palestinian community leader and organizer in Chicago.
A 67 year-old award-winning leader of the Arab and Palestinian immigrant community who came here 20 years ago; developed programs supporting women’s rights; has never been arrested or charged with a crime in the U.S.; is indicted for allegedly “lying” on her citizenship application about being convicted by a military court using a confession obtained through torture and sexual assault. Now try to imagine this scenario happening if this remarkable woman was from Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Russia, China, or any other country with whom the U.S. has less than friendly relations. But in this case, she is Palestinian and the country where her rights to a fair trial, as a prisoner, and as a woman to be free from abuse were violated – was Israel.
Debates have erupted across the United States about the surveillance practices of various government agencies. The privacy American citizens once took for granted is now being questioned, but for some, uncertain privacy is decades old.
In a strange turn of events, prosecutors have accused the Rasmea Defense Committee, all of Odeh supporters, and the leader of a prominent Arab-American social services group of “jury tampering” and “almost certainly criminal” behavior by showing their support for a leader in the Chicago Palestinian community who has come under discriminatory indictment. The prosecution’s solution? Tamper with any jury that might be selected by demanding the jury remain “anonymous” so that they can be prejudiced to believe Odeh is a dangerous terrorist.
In the controversial firing of Professor Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois, the behavior of the Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Board of Trustees Chair Chris Kennedy, and others have been the subject of numerous reports in the media. Escaping notice through all of this is a member of the Board who has been involved in cases that have violated the rights of Palestinian-Americans – former U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald.
The week before the Labor Day weekend during the height of the national outcry over events in Ferguson, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) held a press conference about their letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for an investigation of 65 documented cases of police brutality in Chicago. How many local media sources covered this story? Zero.
Riot Fest is a punk music festival celebrating its 10th anniversary this year spanning from Friday, September 12th to Sunday, September 14th. At its beginning the festival was located at several indoor venues around Chicago. Since this time it has expanded to multiple cities, although Chicago remains the biggest location.
Once again the supporters of Rasmea Odeh came to Detroit for a hearing on her case. This time they had to be content with chanting with confrontational DHS police outside the courthouse and filling up the hallway outside the judge’s chambers during the closed hearing.
The defense team for Chicago Palestinian community leader, Rasmea Odeh, have uncovered new evidence that confirms her alleged immigration fraud case is based on her being targeted for Palestine activism. Yesterday, they filled a motion to dismiss the indictment against her.