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WEB POSTED 11-20-2001
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Fight to free Jamil Al-Amin

by Mumia Abu-Jamal
-Guest Columnist-

FROM A CELL IN WAYNESBURG, Pa.óThe struggle for the freedom and liberty of Atlanta Muslim leader Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin must take place now, before the cold fingers of the state can close around his neck.

Imam Jamil has already received what can only be called a biased and prejudicial press, which has sought to depict him as a dangerous, violent radical. In every substantive news report there has been coverage of his brief membership in the Black Panther Party (BPP), but there has been little reportage of his other associations, and much less of his life as a Muslim imam working as an anti-drug activist, and for the betterment of the entire community.

Imam Jamilís political life didnít begin with the Black Panther Party. Indeed, accounts written by leading Panthers, like Huey P. Newton and Elaine Brown, relate that Jamil, Kwame Ture (the late Stokely Carmichael) and James Forman, were "drafted" into the BPP, a "drafting" sabotaged by the F.B.I., and did not last longer than a few months.

Imam Jamil spent most of his political life as a field director and activist of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), before his later religious conversion.

But if you are the media, which is more "juicy"óa 6-month-long dalliance with the Black Panthers or a 6-year period with SNCC? Which is more representative of his radical youth? Which is the longest? Which is the most prejudicial?

Imam Jamil, in addition to being a spiritual leader, was a businessman who owned a local store. This is hardly the profile projected by the national press.

Arrested a year ago in connection with the shootings of two Atlanta sheriffís deputies, initial police reports strongly suggest the imam is innocent of the charges. The surviving deputy told police investigators that his assailant was shot; Al-Amin, upon his apprehension, was not wounded.

Another police witness reported that the suspect had gray eyes. Al-Aminís eyes are a dark brown.

At the time of this writing, the jury is being selected in a murder trial. (Editorís Note: The trial has been delayed until early next year.) This is especially troubling in light of the recent World Trade Center plane bombings, as it has unleashed a national flurry of hatred against many in the Islamic community. When fear and hatred enter the mind, logic rarely lingers.

That said, Al-Aminís freedom lies in people who express their support now, instead of later. Fairness does not lie in reversing an unjust conviction; rather it lies in preventing one in the first place.

Imam Jamil has lived a good and rich life in service to his spiritual and ethnic community. He richly deserves the fullest support in all efforts leading to his freedom, so that he may return to the community. Free Imam Jamil!

(Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: "Live from Death Row," "Death Blossoms" and "All Things Censored." A new biography by Terry Bisson, "On A Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal," is available at www.MumiaBook.com. Write to Mumia directly at: Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335, SCI-Greene, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg, Pa., 15370.)

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