Forthcoming

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 05.08.2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

 

"We are more alike than we are different"v  Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

Sami Al-Haj: ex-prisoner 345

2008-05-11

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Free. At last.

Even as journalist Sami Al-Haj displayed his joy to be home, at last, in his native land, Sudan, he remembered the unnamed and unfreed American torture victims yet imprisoned in  Guantanamo US naval base.

He declared “Torture does not end terrorism; torture is terrorism”.

How I admire this man, this journalist, this patriot.

I doubt if I could have withstood a fraction of what he did, even for a year. Could you? Al-Haj somehow survived that American hell 6 years and 5 months!

I wonder if others feel as I do:--shame over American behavior, its leadership, its collaborating psychologists, it lackey media, its stone-hearted jailers, its ignorant citizens, its spineless intellectuals.

At the same time, do you not feel esteem for this young man? Do you not feel renewed hope that public outrage by however few may still be effective to force a government to change? Is this not surely affirmation of how Islam empowers humans with immense inner strength?

How auspicious for me that somehow, last Thursday and Friday, I had access to Al-Jazeera TV. I waited up late in the night to see footage direct from Khartoum. With millions of others, even vicariously, I wanted to welcome that plane carrying the once-young journalist and two of his compatriots when it touched African land at Sudan’s airport.

Gratification; then, momentarily, anger eclipsed this wave of victory. I was forced not to forget from where he had come. I watched Al-Haj manhandled by his captors--uniformed American servicemen carrying their prisoner out of the US Air Force plane and down the steps. Three Americans, each twice Sami’s bulk, gripped him clumsily before passing him to a waiting stretcher. If this is how they treat a human being as they release him, my god, begin to imagine the prison! I glared at the image in shame. Al-Haj’s hands remained bound by his notorious captors, boney legs dangled lifelessly from their clumsy criminal arms. Finally Al-Haj was handed to comrades and laid on a nearby stretcher. There, I witnessed his wrists still bound together at his waist. Only now, firmly on African soil, his own people cut away the bonds.

The Americans had refused. (US authorities arrogantly, reprehensibly maintained they were not releasing Al-Haj as a free man, but rather handing over their prisoner to Sudanese authorities. Forever righteous, our American department of defense. We later learned Al-Haj and his companions were bound and shackled to chairs throughout the long journey.)

Humdulillah, he is home. But the freed man appeared so frail that I thought, “My God, he is sick; he is dying.” The crowd of attendants whisking him into the hospital, cameras rolling all the while, saw something else.

Hardly 20 minutes later, Sami Al-Haj managed to sit up in the hospital bed and he was speaking to the cameras. Grasping a phone, with cameras rolling above him, he was giving an interview condemning his captors, Guantanamo prison itself, the torture methods, the brutality of the Americans. His voice was unwavering and unequivocal. How readily and energetically he reentered his journalist’s voice.

Even though Sami Al-Haj was yet to meet his family, he had to send a message to the world—an urgent testimony-- denunciation of the hypocrisy of the US administration, above all else, to testify to their brutalities.

Al-Haj's firm voice and clear words, his eyes focused as his spoke, affirmed the ignorance and folly of the Americans, the beautiful energy of Islam, the integrity of Al-Jazeera TV network.

Of course one needs to recognize the hard work of many western attorneys in particular. The obstacles they faced seemed insurmountable in the early years when the US Department of Defense was stonewalling any claims of these prisoners rights.  If only shame motivates American civil rights lawyers to challenge the American will, so be it.

See All Blogs in Our Archive »

comments powered by Disqus


Find Us on Facebook
Find Us on Facebook

A little modernity is a dangerous thing/drink deep or taste not the western spring

quoted by historian Ali Mazrui in the film "The Africans: A Triple Heritage"

Alexander Pope, poet

Tahrir Diwan

a poem.. a song..
poem "Don't Turn From Me"
Poet and novelist Mohja Khaf

See poems and songs list

Flash
poems
poem Qur'an Surat Al-Shams
from 'Approaching The Qur'an', CD.

See audio list

Book review
Karen Armstrong's
Fields of Blood: Religion and The History of Violence
reviewed by BN Aziz.

See review list

Tahrir Team

2011 Tahrir Producers
Read about 2011 Tahrir Producers in the team page.

See Tahrir Team

WBAI Online

Select Links



Fatal error: Call to undefined method stdClass::Close() in /home/content/45/4130645/html/blog2.php on line 140