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News :: Human Rights : War and Militarism
Sentencing today: hundreds stand with Tarek; Tarek stands for justice!
13 Apr 2012
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
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
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

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

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."

This work is in the public domain.
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