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US Muslims Condemn UAE for Kidnapping Attorney Asim Ghafoor

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the largest umbrella group for Muslim organizations in the United States, Saturday condemned the United Arab Emirates for kidnapping Virginia attorney Asim Ghafoor and called on the Biden administration to use every lever of American power to secure his release.

Ghafoor was arrested by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when his international fight stopped in the country. An American citizen based in Virginia, Ghafoor is a prominent Muslim attorney and human rights advocate who is a board member with Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) and once acted as an attorney for murdered journalist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi.

The founding members of the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) include American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA) and Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (the Mosque Cares).

In a statement, USCMO Secretary-General Oussama Jammal said:

"On behalf of our member organizations and American Muslims across our nation, we call on the Biden administration to use every lever of American power to free Asim Ghafoor, a widely respected American Muslim attorney and advocate for human rights."

The United Arab Emirates, which has spent years targeting American Muslims who dare to speak up for freedom in the Middle East, has effectively kidnapped Mr. Ghafoor. This pattern of misconduct is completely unacceptable and it must end, USCMO statement said, adding:

When America fails to hold our so-called allies in the Middle East accountable for murdering journalists and kidnapping political dissidents, it emboldens them to go further. President Biden is the President of the United States of America, and he must start forcefully standing up for American citizens targeted overseas, from Shireen Abu Akleh to Asim Ghafoor.

In a statement, Democracy for the Arab World Now said UAE security agents have detained U.S. citizen and the DAWN Board Member Asim Ghafoor at the Dubai International Airport on what appears to be a politically motivated in absentia conviction.

In the absence of any public evidence to support a conviction obtained without due process, DAWN demands that the UAE immediately release Ghafoor and urges President Biden to cancel a scheduled meeting in Saudi Arabia with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ).

"We are outraged at the unjustified detention of our board member and extremely concerned for his health and physical security given the well-documented record of abuse in the UAE, including torture and inhuman treatment," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of DAWN. "We urge the Biden administration to secure the release of an arbitrarily detained American lawyer before agreeing to meet with the UAE's leader MBZ in Jeddah tomorrow."

DAWN informed the State Department about Ghafoor's detention on July 14. A senior State Department official assured DAWN they were working to resolve this matter. According to U.S. consular officials who say they met with him today, the UAE is now detaining Ghafoor in an Abu Dhabi Criminal Investigative Division detention facility on charges related to an in absentia conviction for "money laundering."

Ghafoor has stated that he had no knowledge of any legal matter against him and no reason to believe he was involved in any legal dispute in the UAE. Ghafoor transited through the Dubai International Airport without incident less than a year ago.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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