Dear Fahad

Guest blogged by Brooklynwala

This week the South Asian Magazine for Action and Reflection (SAMAR) along with Theaters Against War (THAW), published several letters of support they solicited for Syed Fahad Hashmi, a US citizen who has been held in solitary confinement since May 2007 in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. Thats right, solitary confinement, debatably a form of torture, for almost 3 years not at Guantanamo Bay, but in downtown Manhattan. Fahad is awaiting trial and has not been convicted of any crime.

Journalist Chris Hedges wrote, The case against Hashmi, like most of the terrorist cases launched by the Bush administration, is appallingly weak and built on flimsy circumstantial evidence If it were a matter of evidence, activists like Hashmi, who is accused of facilitating the delivery of socks to al-Qaida, would probably never be brought to trial.

I wrote a letter to Fahad last week, which you can read in its entirety below. Check out all the letters published in SAMAR here. To me, there is a deep connection between Fahads unjust incarceration and the discrimination and racism we as Sikhs face throughout the world. I hope that more of us get involved in the movement to free Fahad Hashmi and stop the draconian policies of the U.S. government, which continue under President Obamas leadership.

Learn more about Fahads case at www.freefahad.com, and consider writing him a letter of support. Mail it to:

SYED FAHAD HASHMI REG#60011-054

METROPOLITAN CORRECTIONAL CENTER
150 PARK ROW
NEW YORK,NY10007

And send a copy [email protected].

Below is my letter to Fahad.

February 24, 2009

Dear Fahad,

I am writing to say that I, and thousands of others, support you. I have attended a few of the vigils outside of the MCC on Monday nights and have learned a lot about your case and the injustice and inhumanity of your detention. When we chant outside of the MCC for justice and to Free Fahad!, I sometimes wonder whether you can hear us. Hopefully this letter and many others you receive will get to you and you will indeed hear and feel the support, love, and solidarity from outside.

Ive had the pleasure of meeting one of your best friends from Brooklyn College and one of your professors, and hope to meet you in person some day. Your unjust detention encapsulates so much of what is wrong about our government and its repressive and unjust policies.

I hope you are finding ways to feel peace and strength despite the horrible conditions that you are forced to endure. I hope you know that the people are with you, your community is with you, the movement is with you, and God is with you.

I am a turban-wearing Sikh and have faced a great deal of racism since 9/11, which is a part of the backlash and repression the Muslim and Arab communities have been subjected to. When someone calls me bin Laden or terrorist or tries to pull of my turban, I think about individuals and families who have been detained and deported simply because of their Muslim identities. I think about how an entire group of people has been vilified by our government and media as the enemy. The struggles the Sikh community faces are inherently linked to the struggles of the Muslim community, and we are working here on the outside to unite our communities to build a stronger movement for social justice.

Brother, know that there is a growing movement to free you from this cruel and immoral detention. You are in our thoughts and prayers always. I also wanted to send you one of my favorite poems by June Jordan, a freedom fighter from Bed-Stuy who is a great inspiration to me.

Chardi Kala (with eternal optimism)

Poem About My Rights, by June Jordan.


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33 Responses to “Dear Fahad”

  1. Alex says:

    This is so sickeningly unjust. Why isn't Obama doing anything about this case and the countless others?

  2. Alex says:

    This is so sickeningly unjust. Why isn't Obama doing anything about this case and the countless others?

  3. Peepal Kaur says:

    Beautiful beautiful. It reminds me of the shabad in the Guru Granth Sahib that describes Mata Khivi (Guru Angad Dev Ji's wife) as one who brings a cool, leafy shade to others. For some reason that letter reminded me of that shabad – it's just the warmth and relief you get when someone really reaches out to you in those trying moments.

    Thanks for respecting the Divine in all, Brooklynwala.

  4. Peepal Kaur says:

    Beautiful beautiful. It reminds me of the shabad in the Guru Granth Sahib that describes Mata Khivi (Guru Angad Dev Ji's wife) as one who brings a cool, leafy shade to others. For some reason that letter reminded me of that shabad – it's just the warmth and relief you get when someone really reaches out to you in those trying moments.

    Thanks for respecting the Divine in all, Brooklynwala.

  5. Harinder says:

    Their is a fundamental difference in a Muslim and a Sikh way of life.

    Sikhs are Theologically secular and inclusive people whereas Muslims are not.

    The laws enshrined in Quran are unchangable for a muslims ,where as no such laws have been laid our in "Guru Granth Sahib".

    Just because both have superfical resembelance of beard and turban and for this reasons the SIKHS get targated in west .

    The fundamental difference in our theology leaves little in common between us.

    10 Gurujis and 1947 are reminders to this truth

  6. Harinder says:

    Their is a fundamental difference in a Muslim and a Sikh way of life.
    Sikhs are Theologically secular and inclusive people whereas Muslims are not.
    The laws enshrined in Quran are unchangable for a muslims ,where as no such laws have been laid our in “Guru Granth Sahib”.

    Just because both have superfical resembelance of beard and turban and for this reasons the SIKHS get targated in west .

    The fundamental difference in our theology leaves little in common between us.
    10 Gurujis and 1947 are reminders to this truth

  7. brooklynwala says:

    "Sikhs are Theologically secular and inclusive people whereas Muslims are not."

    This doesn't sound like very inclusive thinking to me.

    My piece (and letter) was not making a theological argument but a socio-political one about the horrid reality of contemporary Islamaphobia and Arab hating and how Sikhs are deeply affected by this too. We need solidarity and brother/sisterhood right now between our communities, not more divisiveness.

    But to Harinder's argument, what about all the bani of four Sufi saints in the Guru Granth Sahib? Our Gurus were never against Muslims or against Islam and were so explicit about this that we bow our heads when we walk into a gurdwara to the writings of not only our Gurus, but of Muslim saint-poets.

  8. brooklynwala says:

    "Sikhs are Theologically secular and inclusive people whereas Muslims are not."

    This doesn't sound like very inclusive thinking to me.

    My piece (and letter) was not making a theological argument but a socio-political one about the horrid reality of contemporary Islamaphobia and Arab hating and how Sikhs are deeply affected by this too. We need solidarity and brother/sisterhood right now between our communities, not more divisiveness.

    But to Harinder's argument, what about all the bani of four Sufi saints in the Guru Granth Sahib? Our Gurus were never against Muslims or against Islam and were so explicit about this that we bow our heads when we walk into a gurdwara to the writings of not only our Gurus, but of Muslim saint-poets.

  9. sizzle says:

    @broklynwala

    "The struggles the Sikh community faces are inherently linked to the struggles of the Muslim community…"

    this is a an overly broad and simplistic statement, and since it underpins very reason you sent the letter (that you, as a Sikh, empathize with Fahad) and posted it on this blog (why other Sikhs should empathize and care as much as you do), i have to at least point out the fallacy. while the struggles of the Sikh community are definitely linked to the Muslim community's struggles in certain regards, especially post 9/11, it's not at all "inherent" and there are many reasons why Sikhs should not make such a sweeping statements. it's sloppy thinking.

  10. sizzle says:

    @broklynwala

    "The struggles the Sikh community faces are inherently linked to the struggles of the Muslim community…"

    this is a an overly broad and simplistic statement, and since it underpins very reason you sent the letter (that you, as a Sikh, empathize with Fahad) and posted it on this blog (why other Sikhs should empathize and care as much as you do), i have to at least point out the fallacy. while the struggles of the Sikh community are definitely linked to the Muslim community's struggles in certain regards, especially post 9/11, it's not at all "inherent" and there are many reasons why Sikhs should not make such a sweeping statements. it's sloppy thinking.

  11. Deep hundal says:

    Sizzle, Harinder

    We faced the very same persecution under the Indian state governments war on 'terrorism' from 1984. Anti-terror laws passed in India during those times have strikingly similar elements to the laws passed in the U.S and their war on terror. In both cases, we have individuals wrongly arrested without charge and held indefinitely sometimes leading to death, in most cases leading to inhumane torture.

    There was no reason for to bring up the theological differences in Sikhi and remark of our inclusiveness when we have the example of Guru Teg Bahadar's sacrifice as a precedent to make judgments upon.

    You lack something which every Sikh should enshrine; compassion. By pointing out non-existent fallacies you dismiss the plight of Fahad which was the plight of many now dead Sikhs picked up by the Police, tortured and killed in 'encounters'.

  12. Deep hundal says:

    Sizzle, Harinder

    We faced the very same persecution under the Indian state governments war on 'terrorism' from 1984. Anti-terror laws passed in India during those times have strikingly similar elements to the laws passed in the U.S and their war on terror. In both cases, we have individuals wrongly arrested without charge and held indefinitely sometimes leading to death, in most cases leading to inhumane torture.

    There was no reason for to bring up the theological differences in Sikhi and remark of our inclusiveness when we have the example of Guru Teg Bahadar's sacrifice as a precedent to make judgments upon.

    You lack something which every Sikh should enshrine; compassion. By pointing out non-existent fallacies you dismiss the plight of Fahad which was the plight of many now dead Sikhs picked up by the Police, tortured and killed in 'encounters'.

  13. Harinder says:

    People from India who have shown compassion to like of Mr Fahad include

    1)Prithvi Raj chauhan

    2)first Sikh Guruji

    3)Mahatama Gandhi

    4)PM of India Manmohan singh

  14. Deep Hundal says:

    Nobody is talking about the similarities between the acts of 9/11 and the events of 1984. The two are very different, indeed, but that is not the issue. The issue is the similarities of the persecution faced by both.

    Also; 9/11 was not a 'desire to imposed SHARIA on the human race in general'. In fact, we don't know what the reasons are except speculation. Much of Osama Bin Ladens rhetoric points out to U.S foreign policy and occupation in the Middle East. If you remember, Osama Bin Laden was first contracted out by the U.S to drive out the Russians who were 'occupying' Afghanistan. Once driven out, they did not continue to attack Russia. The 'occupier' was no longer there.

    By his own words, Osama Bin Laden has been against U.S support for Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian and its support for one of the most brutal, fundamentalist regimes in the Middle East next to the Taliban, Saudi Arabia – where he opposed permanent U.S basis.

    Surveying professionals in the Gulf, the Wall Street Journal found that many of them held similar resentments: support for Israel’s brutal occupation, the devastation of Iraqi society, support for brutal regimes, and preventing healthy democratic development.

    Going back to the Eisenhower years, we see the same discourse: according to internal records a question arose as to why there was a 'campaign of hatred towards the U.S' by the Middle East. The National Security Council reflected upon this and concluded that 'there was a perception in that region that the United States supports status quo governments and prevents democracy and development.' During this time Eisenhower also sent the Marines to squash the anti-colonial uprising in British Iraq and nationalist movements in Lebanon.

    To just assume that these events of 9/11 occurred because of a fanatical view that the worlds needs to be under the control of 'Sharia' is to dismiss a century of oppression and repression in the Middle East at western hands. The CIA themselves proposed the theory of 'blowback' or 'unintended consequences' of actions taken part by the United States in the Middle East. The frustration-aggression theory which provides critical insight into conflict also suggests that the U.S has systematically prevented democratic forces and healthy development in the Middle East, continually putting up obstacles to these and causing massive, collective frustration that has lead to aggressive behaviour.

    9/11 isn't so simplistic as you assume.

    We should also not ascertain with complete confidence that Osama Bin Laden was responsible; he was 'assumed' to be responsible with the United States not providing any physical evidence to support its claims. To add further to this, the Taliban had stated that if the United States proved Osama Bin Ladens involvement they would turn him over. This would not happen and the U.S would begin bombing Afghanistan.

  15. Harinder says:

    People from India who have shown compassion to like of Mr Fahad include

    1)Prithvi Raj chauhan
    2)first Sikh Guruji
    3)Mahatama Gandhi
    4)PM of India Manmohan singh

  16. Deep Hundal says:

    Nobody is talking about the similarities between the acts of 9/11 and the events of 1984. The two are very different, indeed, but that is not the issue. The issue is the similarities of the persecution faced by both.

    Also; 9/11 was not a 'desire to imposed SHARIA on the human race in general'. In fact, we don't know what the reasons are except speculation. Much of Osama Bin Ladens rhetoric points out to U.S foreign policy and occupation in the Middle East. If you remember, Osama Bin Laden was first contracted out by the U.S to drive out the Russians who were 'occupying' Afghanistan. Once driven out, they did not continue to attack Russia. The 'occupier' was no longer there.

    By his own words, Osama Bin Laden has been against U.S support for Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian and its support for one of the most brutal, fundamentalist regimes in the Middle East next to the Taliban, Saudi Arabia – where he opposed permanent U.S basis.

    Surveying professionals in the Gulf, the Wall Street Journal found that many of them held similar resentments: support for Israel’s brutal occupation, the devastation of Iraqi society, support for brutal regimes, and preventing healthy democratic development.

    Going back to the Eisenhower years, we see the same discourse: according to internal records a question arose as to why there was a 'campaign of hatred towards the U.S' by the Middle East. The National Security Council reflected upon this and concluded that 'there was a perception in that region that the United States supports status quo governments and prevents democracy and development.' During this time Eisenhower also sent the Marines to squash the anti-colonial uprising in British Iraq and nationalist movements in Lebanon.

    To just assume that these events of 9/11 occurred because of a fanatical view that the worlds needs to be under the control of 'Sharia' is to dismiss a century of oppression and repression in the Middle East at western hands. The CIA themselves proposed the theory of 'blowback' or 'unintended consequences' of actions taken part by the United States in the Middle East. The frustration-aggression theory which provides critical insight into conflict also suggests that the U.S has systematically prevented democratic forces and healthy development in the Middle East, continually putting up obstacles to these and causing massive, collective frustration that has lead to aggressive behaviour.

    9/11 isn't so simplistic as you assume.

    We should also not ascertain with complete confidence that Osama Bin Laden was responsible; he was 'assumed' to be responsible with the United States not providing any physical evidence to support its claims. To add further to this, the Taliban had stated that if the United States proved Osama Bin Ladens involvement they would turn him over. This would not happen and the U.S would begin bombing Afghanistan.

  17. Harinder says:

    If you have facts on 9/11 then it is fine or else every other statement are only hypotheses.

  18. Harinder says:

    If you have facts on 9/11 then it is fine or else every other statement are only hypotheses.

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