Sunday, November 01, 2009

We are all responsible for shooting Luqman Abdallah

Yes, I said it, we are all responsible. But before I explain why we are responsible let me share with you my reading of the events.

Fact: The FBI implanted an informant in the group lead by Luqman Abdallah in 2006.

Fact: Luqman Abdallah's group has anti-establishment views as well as an ideology prohibiting Muslim integration in the American society.

Opinion: The FBI is right to have an informant inside such a group. Such an ideology is worrisome to say the least.

Fact: The informant failed to find any evidence that the group was planning or thinking of planning any violent actions. Three years of good intelligence work didn't yield any evidence of terrorism.

Fact: Despite the extreme ideology of the group, they were very well known to offer shelter for the homeless and help the poor.

Opinion: At this point I see no reason for further pursuing such a group by law enforcement. I think that keeping the informant may not be a bad idea but beyond that this is a group with a corrupt ideology and benevolent actions. Law enforcement has no business putting away people because of their ideology. This is the job of the rest of the institutions of the society. The civil society should call such ideologies out and expose the weaknesses of their arguments. This was a job of Muslims like me. However, where were we? We weren't doing our job. We didn't work hard enough to convey the message of Islam as it is, a message of peace, tolerance and integration. These people were living in a very rough part of Detroit and we didn't do anything to help them with poverty, health care, education or at least providing a dignified life. This is the case for everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, who live in this part of town as well as many parts of Michigan and the US. Many of us enjoy our easy lives and feel comfortable passing judgments over people like Luqman Abdallah for his ideology. This was the point where law enforcement should have stopped and we should have taken over.

Fact: The FBI decided to put away the group anyway and hence they asked their informant to provoke them to engage in criminal activities. The FBI has been successful in other cases to encourage groups to engage in terrorist activities.

Opinion: The FBI failed to move the group to violence despite the availability of firearms, the apparent lack of law and order in Detroit and the extreme ideology of the group. It's my belief that had the FBI been able to provoke Luqman Abdallah's group to engage in violence they would have done it. However, they failed and that's when they resorted to put them away for any other offense. Luqman Abdallah's leadership prevented his group from getting involved in terrorism. His leadership channeled his group's efforts in serving the poor and sheltering the homeless. Yet because of his ideology, the FBI had to put him away. That's what happens when the civil society disappears and the law enforcement takes on roles they were not supposed to play.

Opinion: Selling stolen goods and all other offenses the FBI managed to provoke the group to do are not sanctioned by Islam. Luqman Abdallah was not following Islam, rather his wrong understanding of it, when he got himself involved in such activities.

Fact: At the time of the arrest the FBI dog attacked Luqman Abdallah who defended himself by shooting once at the dog. The agents in return shot Luqman Abdallah 18 times. After that they handcuffed him and sent him by car to the hospital. The dog, however, was airlifted to the hospital.

Opinion: This is straight up racism. Is a black man less than a dog? Is a criminal human being less than a dog? Since when do you handcuff a criminal who needs emergency medical attention? Was it because he was black? Or was it because he was Muslim? Or was it because he was both? Maybe because he was preaching an extreme ideology? Luqman Abdallah had rights that were violated both when he was alive as well as when he was dead.

I believe that the law enforcement should be held accountable. I believe that the policies that lead to the cascade of events should be revised. I also believe that all concerned people should get together to fight extreme ideologies. At the same time all concerned people should get together to ensure that everyone has a dignified life, proper housing, good education and affordable health care.