Congressman expresses outrage over closing of detention hearing for respected Muslim Imam


"When legal proceedings are closed to the public, something very wrong has happened to the system of justice in America".

Rep. John Conyers, Jr, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement in connection with INS's decision today to close the Detroit detention hearing for Rabih Haddad, a Pastor in Michigan's Muslim community. Both Conyers and the public in general were denied admission to the immigration proceeding, which are ordinarily open.

"The treatment of Pastor Haddad over the last several weeks has highlighted everything that is abusive and unconstitutional about our government's scapegoating of immigrants in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack.

First and foremost, the proceedings to date have all been in secret. This is an anathema to our system of due process and is more akin to the treatment seen in a dictatorship than a constitutional democracy. The Sixth amendment is clear - "the accused shall enjoy the right to a public trial."

Yet today we witnessed the closing of a detention hearing involving a member in good standing of our Arab community. There was a secret list of 'permitted attendees' - but we have not way of knowing who was on the list or why. Certainly, I was not one of the chosen few. When the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee - the committee having oversight responsibility for our immigration laws and our courts -- is not permitted to attend such a hearing in our court system, something very wrong has happened to the system of justice in America.

Moreover, the decision to freeze the assets of Pastor Haddad's Global relief fund have all been in secret as well. This is a group that has raised millions of dollars to fight poverty and we have not seen a shred of evidence linking the charity in any way to terrorism. Here we have a man facing deportation allegedly because of his links to a charitable group linked to terrorism without any foundation in public evidence.

Beyond that, we have one of the most prominent members of the Michigan Islamic community -a man who helped bring about interfaith healing in the wake of the attack - being detained without any bond. The claim that he is a flight risk and a danger to the community appear to be totally unfounded. His passport has been taken and he has family in the U.S., so he will clearly not flee. And although the INS claims he is dangerous because he owns arms, his rifle is registered and he is an avid hunter. The Fifth Amendment states "no person shall be...deprived of life, liberty, liberty and property without due process of law." The last time I checked, holding someone in prison without a valid reason deprived him of his liberty.

Finally, I fear the government is merely seeking a delay so they can trump up more charges while the Pastor is detained also violates the Sixth amendment, which promises a "speedy trial." If the government has evidence, they should produce it. But in this case, justice delayed translates to justice denied.

I am particularly appalled the Bush administration would be championing these secret proceedings and the use of secret evidence. During the campaign, Mr. Bush promised to oppose the use of secret evidence. Now the President is not only using secret evidence, but by obtaining and using new powers for secret evidence for asset freezes derived from the so-called 'USA Patriot Act,' he is expanding it.

Now some would assert the constitution does not apply to immigrants within our borders. Yet the reality is every single court which has addressed this question in recent year has found that the constitution does apply to immigrants, that's why secret evidence has been consistently thrown out.  If you don't believe me, look at Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67 (1976), and Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001), cases in which the Supreme Court upheld this age old principle.

The attack of September 11th should not destroy our Constitution, rather it should strengthen our commitment to it. Pastor Haddad is entitled to the full disclosure of any evidence against him.  He should be released pending future proceedings unless the Government can rely on something better than the lawful ownership of a gun by a man known to his friends as a compassionate, law-abiding individual who has made important contributions to the Michigan community."


January 3, 2002

The Honorable John D. Ashcroft
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20510

The Honorable James W. Zigler
Commissioner, Immigration and Naturalization Services
425 I Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20536

Dear Mr. Attorney General and Mr. Commissioner:

I am writing to express my deep concern with the Immigration and Naturalization Service's detention of Pastor Rabih Haddad (A#74-546-461) in general and the INS's decision to close any hearings involving Pastor Haddad to the public.  These actions threaten to make a mockery of our system of justice, and send a terrible signal to the international communities regarding our treatment of foreign nationals.

Pastor Haddad is a prominent member of the Michigan Islamic Community. Among other activities, in the aftermath of the September 11 attack, he was an important participant in an Ann Arbor town hall meeting designed to promote healing among faiths. Pastor Haddad has also received petitions of support from thousands of friends from Michigan and Oregon. The apprehension, detention and lack of due process afforded Pastor Haddad once again highlights many of the concerns raised by our government's treatment of immigrants in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attack.

Why have the immigration proceedings regarding Pastor Haddad been held in secret? On January 2, 2002, I went to a previously scheduled detention hearing fully expecting to attend an open and fair judicial process. To my amazement, I personally witnessed the closing of the detention hearing, a highly unusual practice. When the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee - the committee having oversight responsibility for our immigration laws and our courts -- is not permitted to attend such a hearing in our court system, it seems to me that something is very wrong with the system of justice in America.  Please describe in detail the rational used to close these proceedings to the public.

1. Who was permitted to attend the January 2nd hearing and what was the process and criteria for inclusion on the list of "permitted attendees"?  When I arrived at the hearing, there apparently was a secret list of 'permitted attendees' - but I have no way of knowing who was on the list or why. I do know that I was not one of the chosen few.  Please inform me of the method by which persons are included or excluded from such lists. How is it possible for members of Congress to oversee our executive branch if we are denied access to immigration hearings?

2. Why is Pastor Haddad being prohibited from being released on bond? As you know, a person must be released on bond, unless he is considered a flight risk or a danger to the community. In this case, it appears to me that Pastor Haddad is neither. His passport has been taken, his family is in the United States (including his son and brother who are both U.S. Citizens), and he is a longstanding and prominent member of the Islamic community. Further, the court has received a petition from 5,000 people plus 60 personal letters and 6 affidavits from U.S. Citizens in support of Pastor Haddad's release. To suggest his ownership of a hunting rifle makes him dangerous fails to take into the account that the rifle is licensed and that he is an avid hunter.

3. Is Pastor Haddad's detention linked in any manner to his involvement with the Global Relief Foundation? According to press accounts, Pastor Haddad's involvement in this organization was in part the reason for the denial of Pastor Haddad's bond request and the unusual treatment he is receiving. Please let me know if this is accurate and if so, what is the legal rationale for linking such involvement with the status of his case.  Also, please inform me regarding any basis in fact or law for linking the Global Relief Foundation to any alleged terrorist activity.

4. Does the Government intend to use classified evidence in Pastor Haddad's case or any other immigration case? As you know, President Bush has previously stated that "secret evidence" will not be used in deportation cases. The Judiciary Committee has also previously reported legislation prohibiting the use of "secret evidence." It would be helpful if you could confirm that this is your policy and that "secret evidence" will not be used in this or any other immigration case.

Please respond to the aforementioned questions as quickly as possible, and by no later than January 10, as Pastor Haddad continues to be held in detention.  Please also contact me or my staff at 202-225-6504 if you have any questions.


John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Chairman Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Carol Jenifer, District Director Immigration and Naturalization Service
The Honorable Daniel J. Bryant, Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Joseph Karpinski, Director of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization Services

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. is from the Fourteenth District, Michigan; a Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus. Contact: Dena Graziano (202) 226-6888.

Call to Action:


Representative John Conyers, Jr.
Michigan 14th district
2426 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Phone: 202-225-5126, Fax: 202-225-0072
E-Mail: [email protected]

Web Site:

Please remember to copy your emails to [email protected]

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Older Comments:
Having been born, raised and schooled in southern Michigan (Madison High School), and having served for twenty-five years in the Armed Forces of The United States, sworn to " and defend the Copnstitution of The United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic...," it has been only recently that I have concluded that the greatest threat to the U,S, Constitution is more domestic than foreign and comes from within, from those Officers of our government sworn to protect and enforce it, "...enemies...domestic...." I commend Rep. Conyers for his stance in defense of the U.S. Constitution and the Rights of Pastor Haddad. The threat to The Constitution and American Freedom is not "out there," but right there at home!

Last year I came across several articles, in USA newspapers and magazines, that recorded one disturbing quote from President Bush:"This country would be so much easier to run if it were a dictatorship, and especially if I were the dictator." Has anyone seen the American government lately? We learned nothing about this individual from the way he obtained office. Is it possible that we require an "interim" government in order to allow the land's peoples to hear that (first) matter settled? Believe me, I have considered that the WTC events helped a number of 'elected' officials in ths country. Having searched the 'evidence' I find no guilt for the 'alledged' responsible party(ies). However it is only fair that I reveal that I was raised in this country to believe: "innocent until proven guilty." A lot has changed since November 2000's election.
To Imam Rabin Haddah I offer my sincerest apology for an administration and a country that is driven by wrong values. We have chosen to walk in blindness. We want what we have, and we want what you have. The Signs are almost completed and this
is the last generation(Bible). Ultimately 'stop
global terrorism' is the one thought of the blind.
We don't read our Bibles or the Qur'an, and yet we sit in darkness and judge you. I am not worthy to ask Allah for anything. But I will praise His name knowing that you are worthy. I only speak a little Farsi: Gorbanashomah.
To Rep. Conyers, I pass on what someone else passed to me: Man plans, Allah plans, Allah is the best of planners. Sincerely yours.


MUSLIMS in kenya are very angry with every step
that the U.S.A is taking,against our felow muslims
OF LIFE IN ISLAM .I love Americans but i hate Bush
ARE WAITING. im black and ilove every body in the world exept BUSH,TONY BLAIR,SHARON AND THERE SLAVES.To mr Hadaad we will pray for him against

It is important that the Muslim community makes strong jestures of support to Congressman Conyers and others like him who take the harder to take position of standing up to those bent on making Muslims second class citizens in this country. Take the time to do something in your community to help them out... At least send them a Thank You note and tell them that you will be there for them next election day... This is the kind of Jihad that we should (but do not regulary)participate in.

I am totally shocked at the way the INS is treating Mr. Rabih HAddad without any proof. Justice should be served. We need to show to the world that US is a fair country not unjust. The young children learn lessons of fairness from the past and present and if their past is unfair how are we to teach them right from wrong. Mr. Rabih Haddad should be released as soon as possible. He should join his family as soon as possible.

A concerned sister

Please keep me posted on the detention of Emam Rabih Haddad. The Bush Administration and his cabinet are going to make arrests and violate the civil rights of Muslim's and Arab's without any regards to Constitutional rights. We are in trouble and the only way to solve this is to make sure next election regardless if the President changes his ways or not is to campaign against his re-election

send a copy of this ins proceeding to world magizine (GODS WORD PUBLICATIONS)

Things will forever change. The government will twist whatever law to serve its interests simply because it can, constitution or not, it's happening in this case and in others like it. Are you frightened at the sobering reality that there is no freedom here in the sense that we all came to understand? Who gets justice and who doesn't? Should I change my name and face to escape the inevitable? Not while I am a muslim who fears God alone and in him alone I have faith. This is all a test from God whose blessing upon America we invoke; because Lord knows a country that treats its citizenry in this Draconian way is not blessed, no matter how many flags we fly on our cars.

Changing the rules to suite one's own agenda is the norm for this administration. We must not forget that changing the rules (to put it kindly) is how this administration came to be in the white house.