CAIR Files Amicus Brief in Texas Muslim Charity Trial

Posted Aug 16, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version Bookmark and Share


Listing of 300 Muslim individuals, institutions called ‘unconstitutional’

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/16/2007) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today announced the filing of an amicus brief relating to the ongoing trial of the Holy Land Foundation Muslim charity in Texas.

The brief, filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), asks the court to remove the Washington-based group’s name, and that of several hundred other Muslim individuals and institutions, from a list of so-called “unindicted co-conspirators.”

In a related development, the National Association of Muslim Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales objecting to the list and saying it could lead to increased discrimination against American Muslims.

SEE: Muslim Groups Oppose a List of ‘Co-Conspirators’ (NY Times)

CAIR’s brief, filed by attorney William B. Moffitt, alleges that the listing of the organizations and individuals violates Justice Department guidelines and violates the uncharged parties’ First and Fifth Amendment rights.

The brief states in part:

“The Fifth Amendment was violated because the public naming of the unindicted co-conspirators damaged their reputation, good name, and economic well-being, without offering a forum for vindication, and without a legitimate governmental reason for doing so. The First Amendment was violated because the governmental action of publicly naming the unindicted co-conspirators chilled the expressive associational activities of the unindicted co-conspirators and the government does not have a substantially related compelling interest for their action. . .

“Undoubtedly, the practice of naming unindicted co-conspirators needs to be proscribed from the outset. Such a practice should be per se unconstitutional, because once the government publicizes the names of the unindicted co-conspirators, the damage to their reputations, economic well-being, and expressive associations is done. . .

“In this case, the government had nothing to lose by violating the Department of Justice guidelines and the Constitution, as their stigmatizing of these ‘unpopular’ groups and persons could not be undone. . .”

To read the entire brief, go to:

A recent article in Newsweek stated: “According to one senior law-enforcement official. . .the listing of ISNA, CAIR and other groups as ‘unindicted co-conspirators’ was largely a tactical move by the government. By listing the groups, the official said, it makes it easier for prosecutors to introduce documents, tapes and other evidence mentioning them. . .”

SEE: An Unwelcome Guest (Newsweek)

In a recent editorial on this issue, CAIR Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed wrote: “At a time when most experts are recommending the strengthening of American Muslim institutions to serve as bridges of understanding between America and the Muslim world, the smearing of these institutions undermines the very cause that ought to unite us as Americans.”

SEE: American Muslims: Second-Class Citizens? (Star-Telegram)

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.