Fired USF professor to speak on Civil Rights in America after September 11
Does the "war on terrorism" justify detaining individuals just because of their ethnic or religious background?
Will racial profiling of Arab-Americans protect US citizens - or only shred their constitutional safeguards?
Dr. Sami Al-Arian of the University of South Florida will discuss these and related questions on Wednesday, April 10, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in the main auditorium of the Computer Science & Engineering building on the University of Florida campus. His talk is titled "The State of Civil Rights in post September 11th America." An informal reception will follow.
He will hold a press conference at the Civic Media Center ( 1021 W. University Ave.) at 5:30 the same afternoon.
Dr. Al-Arian's experience with the issues of civil liberties, constitutional rights, and academic freedom is based on years of controversial activism. Aside from speaking out on behalf of Palestinian and Muslim rights, he has campaigned for years with the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom against the use of secret evidence by federal agencies.
Recently, Dr. Al-Arian's own career has become a focus of national debate. Though repeated investigations by the FBI and other authorities have never revealed grounds for any charges of illegal activity, unsubstantiated allegations of "terrorist links" from Fox TV pundit Bill O'Reilly, Tampa radio personality "Bubba the Love Sponge", and other sensationalist media sources have contributed to a wave of death threats and other pressures, which in turn have led the University of South Florida to suspend Dr. Al-Arian from his tenured teaching position, with the stated intent of firing him.
Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, Dr. Al-Arian has lived in the United States since 1975. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1985, and has published over 40 papers in that discipline. As a tenured Associate Professor at the University of South Florida, he has received USF's Outstanding Teacher Award and Teaching Incentive Award. His wife, Nahla, is a comparative religion teacher; their five children range from Abdullah, a Duke University undergraduate student, to Lama, a third-grader.
Dr. Al-Arian, 44, is also dedicated to interfaith dialogues, community development, and civil rights. He served on the board of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (HOPE), the largest community organization in Hillsborough County, and is a member of many other civic organizations. Dr. Al-Arian is a frequent speaker and lecturer on many campuses, churches, and conferences. He serves as the local pastor, or Imam, of the Islamic community in Tampa.
His speech at UF is sponsored by the Community Coalition Against War and Terrorism (CCAWT), a Gainesville group opposed to the spread of violence in response to the 9/11 attacks.
Contact: CCAWT: Pierce Butler, 352-377-4601
On the Web: http://www.civicmediacenter.org/ccawt
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