National Legal Fund Says Government Attempting to Criminalize Lawful Activities
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 – DALLAS – The Muslim Legal Fund of America, a national civil liberties legal fund, is funding the legal defense of two imams in Florida after federal prosecutors alleged the imams' funding of children's schools in Pakistan constitute material support for terrorism.
On May 14, 2011, federal agents arrested two imams, Imam Hafiz Khan and Imam Izhar Khan, and Izhar's Brother, Irfan Khan. Authorities eventually dropped all charges against Irfan Khan. Hafiz Khan, who is 77 years old, is the father of the other two imams and suffers from age-related reduced cognitive function. He and his son, Izhar, remain in solitary confinement, where they have been since their arrests.
Representatives from MLFA say that prosecutors are attempting to criminalize lawful activities by exploiting dangerously vague material support statutes in the US Patriot Act.
"It appears that this is another case of prosecutors claiming that charity, when it's from Muslims, is a crime," said Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA. "The freedom to provide food, clothing, shelter and education to disadvantaged children in different parts of the world is the foundation of Americans' renowned generosity."
South Florida Muslim community members are supportive of the imams and are adamant about the imams' innocence. Imran Khan, another son of the elder Hafiz Khan, said that his family has never supported the Taliban or any other terror group.
"My father has helped fund children's schools in Pakistan for over 30 years," said Imran Khan. "He should be getting an award, not arrested and thrown in a dark cell for over a year."
Meek also express concerns over the treatment of Hafiz Khan. Meek said that the 77 year old imam is being denied access to his medications while being held in solitary confinement.
The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a national civil liberties legal fund that defends the U.S. Bill of Rights by supporting legal cases that involve civil liberty encroachments. Established in 2001, MLFA has defending freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many other of our nation's civil liberties. MLFA is currently funding its first U.S. Supreme Court petition to defend the Sixth Amendment's right for the accused to be confronted with witnesses against them. To learn more about MLFA, visit their website at www.mlfa.org