Tarek Mehanna Sentenced

From Boston Indymedia

Dr. Tarek Mehanna was sentenced to 210 months today at the Moakley Federal Courthouse, with more than 300 supporters packing the courtroom and overflow rooms. In a landmark case that has mobilized civil liberties and Muslim groups nationwide, Dr. Mehanna was sentenced for providing ‘material support’ to a terrorist organization, amidst hundreds of protesting supporters. Mehanna addressed the court, stating:

“Everything I learned [as a young adult] confirmed what I was beginning to learn when I was six: that
throughout history there has been a constant struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed. And with each struggle I learned about, I found myself consistently siding with the oppressed and consistantly siding
with those that defend them.”

Dr. Mehanna remained composed throughout the day’s proceedings, thanking supporters and exiting with a firm “assalaam alaikum.” In a moving expression of solidarity, Dr. Mehanna’s supporters stood up and applauded as he exited. While supporters were not allowed to wear symbols of support, such as FREE TAREK shirts, into the main courtroom, their presence was greatly felt.

“Today has been yet another travesty of justice, a continuation of this whole trial,” Rev. Jason Lydon declared outside the courthouse, following the hearing, where friends, family, and supporters rallied in protest of the heavy sentence. Family friend, Sarah Moawad, stated, “Dr. Mehanna is an outspoken Muslim leader who was prosecuted for his criticism of the government’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his advocacy for the right of people to defend themselves. The first amendment is dead. A member of our community is going to prison for 17.5 years because of conversations he had and beliefs he held.”

With sentencing over, Dr. Mehanna will be transferred to a federal prison out of state in the coming weeks, but supporters don’t seem to be going anywhere. Laila Murad, of the Tarek Mehanna Support Committee, vowed, “This is not over. We will continue to fight for justice for Tarek and the countless others who have been imprisoned for their political beliefs, and we will expose the outrageous, vindictive practices of the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office.”
Despite the sentence, supporters stated that they had seen concrete results.A coordinator for Dr. Mehanna’s support campaign, Kate Bonner-Jackson, attributed the prosecutors’ recommendation of 25 years, rather than the possible sentence of life without parole, to community support for Dr. Mehanna and public outcry, including almost 100 pages of support the court received prior to sentencing. She stressed the need for continued solidarity.

Dr. Mehanna’s parents thanked supporters and affirmed that they stand behind their son. “We’re proud of Tarek and the stances he took,” his brother, Tamer Mehanna stated. “Our attorneys will be filing an appeal
immediately.”

As the large crowd dispersed, a long-time friend of Dr. Mehanna’s, Mohamed Bahi, commented, “Tarek has remained steadfast and so will we. We won’t rest till he’s free.”

 

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