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Islam and pre-emptive incarceration

Mariam Abu-Ali addresses the audience. Behind Abu-Ali are posters of those imprisoned under the auspices of terrorism-related investigations.

Mariam Abu-Ali addresses the audience. Behind Abu-Ali are posters of those imprisoned under the auspices of terrorism-related investigations.

Annika Vande Krol ('19) | Photo Bureau

Annika Vande Krol ('19) | Photo Bureau

Mariam Abu-Ali addresses the audience. Behind Abu-Ali are posters of those imprisoned under the auspices of terrorism-related investigations.

Sam Mitchell, Staff Writer

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Ikraan Abdurahmān, Mariam Abu-Ali  and Human rights lawyer Kathy Manley, gave a lecture titled “Islam and Pre-emptive Incarceration” on May 3. The lecture was the final part in the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement’s (CEPE) “Tough Talk, Calm Voices” lecture series.

The lecture gave an introduction into the U.S. criminal justice system and the imprisonment of those who are in contact with the terrorist group ISIS. The lecture then discussed how the recent rise of mass incarceration has been dealt with by these people.

Manley, a human rights lawyer who works for the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, began the lecture by discussing the controversial convictions of the people who have been prosecuted for different associations with ISIS.

“We studied terrorism cases and found that less than 1 percent are actual terrorists or trying to attack anybody,” Manley said. “Most people were either unfairly convicted in sting operations where they were manipulated or given money to say bad things on a tape and got prosecuted for it.”

Manley added that sting operations, undercover operations constructed to catch a person who may be suspicious of committing a crime, were used under the Bush and Cheney administration after the events of 9/11 and lasted until 2010.

“[Suspected terrorists] were prosecuted with vague material supporter conspiracy charges where they’re not actually trying to do anything to harm anybody, but are sentenced very harshly,” Manley said. “The discrepancy is based on racism and Islamophobia, and we think people really need to know about this and are not aware of these cases.”

The other lecturers, Abdurahmān and Abu-Ali, spoke about their personal experiences with the criminal justice system, as both of their brothers were imprisoned under terrorism-related investigations.

Abdurahmān, whose brother pleaded guilty to being in contact with ISIS, talked about the struggle her family and community faces.

“I feel like there is so much injustice, which is unfortunate and continues to happen in the world,” Abdurahmān said. “But love and humanity and having compassion for other people’s internal and external struggles is one way to combat injustice.”

Annika Vande Krol (’19) | Photo Bureau
Ikraan Abdurahman, Human rights lawyer Kathy Manley and Mariam Abu-Ali speak in Olin 102.

Abu-Ali echoed Abdurahmān’s sentiment.

“If we look at our criminal justice system, it is broken in so many ways,” Abu-Ali said.  [Pre-emptive and mass incarceration] is just one facet of how it is broken and how it’s affecting the Muslim community.”

The lecturers also discussed the controversy of whether or not those incarcerated should face the length of sentences that they are given.

Assistant Director of the CEPE Krista Holland said that she hopes the lecture moves students to take action.

“The [CEPE] aims to provide a space for dialogue, a vital component in the process of self-discovery,” Holland said. “Those attending the panel might not be moved in the same way, but this process of self-discovery helps us all take moral responsibility as individuals in a world that feels overwhelmingly large at times.”

Associate Professor of History and Director of the CEPE Victoria Christman agreed, saying that the lecture was in line with the CEPE’s goals.

“One of the most important goals of the [CEPE] is to provide a space in which we can raise difficult questions and discuss them in an open environment,” Christman said. “This particular event raises questions about our legal system and our constitutional rights as citizens of the United States.”

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