ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Nearly 300 students, community activists, Muslim community members, and Christian church-goers attended a candlelight vigil outside the federal building here last month. Sponsored by the Ann Arbor Ad Hoc Committee for Peace and the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor and Vicinity, the vigil called for the release of Rabih Haddad, an imam at the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor and community activist. Haddad was recently arrested for an allegedly expired visa but is held without specific charges which, according to one report, is “unprecedented.”

Haddad’s supporters said his application for permanent residency through employment sponsorship was still pending when the INS had him arrested.

A pending application is legal and customary. The vigil was an expression of solidarity with Haddad and his family, to urge his release pending his hearing, and to have the charges against him, if any, made public.

Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Department refused to divulge any information concerning the case, except that he is being “held indefinitely.”

Government officials refused permission for Haddad’s wife and family, including his four young children, to see him.

Taurus Colvin, from Islamic Center of Ann Arbor, challenged people to stand up for Haddad and to recognize him as a “symbol of all the people [who] have disappeared.” He said, “All people, regardless of religion or ethnicity” should be free of special targeting and racial profiling by the U.S. government.

“U.S. laws ought to protect all of us Americans,” Colvin said. Haddad’s children held a hand -made sign that read: “We love our Dad. We want him to come home.”

Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.) said the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of all citizens and persons within its borders. She also expressed her opposition to both anti-terror laws, 2001 and 1996, calling them severe attacks on the civil liberties of citizens and residents because they give too much unchecked power to federal law enforcement officials.

The Center for Creative Democracy of Ann Arbor reported that Haddad had spoken at a number of community forums and town hall meetings raising questions about Bush’s war on Afghanistan, including one sponsored by Rivers.

A spokesperson for the Michigan ACLU said Haddad’s arrest was part of the Bush administration’s plans to “detain” several hundred Muslims in the greater Detroit area. She encouraged people to send protest messages to their Congressional representatives.

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