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Every denomination needs one of these...

Craigville Theological Colloquy speaker charged with immigration fraud

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The U.S. Attorney's office issued a press release today announcing that Imam Muhammad Masood of Sharon, MA has been charged with immigration fraud. Masood was a featured speaker on Islam at the Craigville Theological Colloquy a couple of years ago. The Craigville Theological Colloquy is arguably the premier forum on theology within a number of mainline churches, but particularly in the United Church of Christ.

From The Boston Globe today:
The criminal charges follow administrative charges brought by immigration officials last year. That case also drew wide protest from local Muslim leaders, who have accused authorities of ignoring efforts to smooth relations with members of various cultures.

A detailed affidavit filed in federal court alleges that Masood told authorities that after attending a master's degree program in economics at Boston University in the early 1990s, he returned to his native Pakistan for two years, as required by law, before returning to the United States in 1993 and later applying for residency.

But, the affidavit says, Masood never left Boston, and records show that he continued to live in Boston University housing with his wife and children, even though he was no longer a student. He was cited for a couple of traffic violations and was present when his fifth child was born in Boston in 1992, the affidavit indicates.
The press release further mentions that Masood "had been arrested for shoplifting in Norwood, Massachusetts in 2000".

The Boston chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS) has been appealing to the public for financial support for Masood since his initial immigration charges. Interestingly enough, the MAS press conference today didn't actually refute the charges against Masood, only that MAS believes it is part of a "witch hunt" on the Boston Muslim community. From the Boston Chapter of MAS:
We maintain that the transferring this matter from immigration proceedings to criminal charges is punitive and vindictive on the part of the government and is apparently a tactic to intimidate Imam Masood into yield incriminating information about the Boston Muslim communities' leaders even though such information does not exist. This is a tremendous waste of taxpayer money and resources and takes attention away from pursuing real threats to security.
During Masood's initial immigration charges, Rev. Dr. Llewellyn P. Smith, a United Church of Christ minister and an adjunct faculty member at Andover Newton Theological School, provided a letter of support to MAS for Imam Muhammad Masood:
To whom it may concern:

This past July, Imam Hafiz Masood was invited to speak at the Craigville Theological Colloquy on Cape Cod. The conference was composed of Mainline religious leaders from a number of Christian denominations, including the United Church of Christ. We who made the plans were very impressed by Imam Masood and very grateful for his participation. He is a highly educated, sensitive, intelligent and kind person. His words were thoughtful and highlighted the importance of interfaith dialogue. The world will be a better place if we can have communication and honest dialogue such as we had last summer with Imam Masood. The evaluations of our conference were most enthusiastic about his valuable dialogue with us. May God bless him and you who are looking into his situation.

Peace, Rev Dr Llewellyn P. Smith, United Church of Christ Pastor.

There's no way to fault the Craigville Theological Colloquy for having Masood as a speaker - clearly he was a capable speaker on Islam. However, you have to question Smith's credibility with her apparently blind support for Masood without really knowing the full story. Although Smith's letter is rather benign and factual, her letter is being used to generate support for Masood.

Hat tip to Solomonia!
posted by UCCtruths, Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Remember the case of Imam Fawaz Damra? In that case, like in this one involving Imam Hafiz Masood, the purpose of the ongoing witch-hunt is not to find witches, but create them. Seems like any Muslim leader who is articulate, critical, compassionate and dedicated to good interfaith relations is a target of the Islamophobes these days. When this madness finally ceases and the enormity of its damage is assessed, repentance will be the order of the day for many; hopefully it will take place in a penitentiary.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 9:25 AM  
Are you suggesting that if Masood had not done the things that he is alleged to have done he would have been prosecuted only because of role in promoting interfaith relations?

Do you think the charges against him are fabricated?

And doesn't truthfulness serve as the basis for interfaith dialogue?

If the man did lie to government officials as the complaint alleges he did, then how can he be regarded as a promoter of interfaith dialogue? How can any of what he says be trusted?
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:12 AM  
For those of you who do not know who Fawaz Damra is, he was an Imam who was arrested and lost his citizenship after he was convicted of lying on his application for U.S. Citizenship.

After his conviction, he was deported to the West Bank. The Israelis arrested him because of his past ties to a group called Islamic Jihad, an organization that denies Israel's right to exist and has targeted civilians with suicide attacks during the Second Intifada. He was subsequently released by the Israelis and now lives on the West Bank.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Damra was freed "after prosecutors declined to appeal the decision of a military judge, who ruled there was not enough evidence to tie Damra to terrorist groups, said Damra's Israeli lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan."

During the controversy, video tape surfaced in which Damra was recorded saying that Jews were monkeys and pigs. He made these comments at fund raisers for Islamic Jihad, the terror group mentioned above.

Damra called for Jews in Israel to be stabbed and urged people to point a "rifle at the first and last enemy of the Islamic nation, and that is the sons of monkeys and pigs, the Jews."

He has apologized for the anti-Jewish statements, but denied fund raising for any group listed in the U.S. as an organization that supports terrorism.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, during the sentencing hearing, prosecutors asserted that "he could have helped the FBI understand the beginnings of al-Qaida’s network — possibly before it was strong enough to strike." It appears that the judge did not agree with all the allegations, and instead of sentencing him to five years, he sentenced him to two months in prison.

Fawaz and his younger Fayez brother were indicted on tax evasion. Fayez was recently convicted, the case against Fawaz was not pursued after he was sent to the West Bank.

More information can be found at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:25 AM  
Facts are a ventriloquist's dummy. In this case the ventriloquist is blinded by a virulent case of Islamophobia, a widespread social disease which is driving our country closer to fascism everyday.
The ongoing demonization of Imam Damra (even after his exoneration from an Israeli court!!) and other victims of this mad witch-hunt is part of this tragic process. Please try to remember, it is the truth, not lies, which set us free.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 9:09 AM  

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