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Alert: Prominent Muslim Scholar Imam Anwar al-Awlaki Detained in Yemen

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A prominent Muslim scholar who has been detained incommunicado for the past two months in Yemen and may face torture or ill treatment in custody. Sample letters are pasted below.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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Action Alert: Prominent Muslim Scholar Imam Anwar al-Awlaki Detained in Yemen


28 November 2006


IHRC calls on all campaigners to contact the Foreign Office and the Yemeni Embassy to urge for the immediate release of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, a prominent Muslim scholar who has been detained incommunicado for the past two months in Yemen and may face torture or ill treatment in custody. Sample letters are pasted below.

1. Background

[Source: Cageprisoners.com]

Imam Anwar al-Awlaki is a Muslim scholar who was born in New Mexico, and is a US national. His parents are from Yemen, where he lived for eleven years and received the early part of his Islamic education.

He served as an Imam in Colorado, California, and later in the Washington, D.C. area where he headed the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center and was also the Muslim Chaplain at George Washington University. Prior to his detention, he was resident in Yemen, where he was studying Islamic Jurisprudence with prominent scholars. He authored many popular audio series including the \\\"Lives of the Prophets\\\", \\\"The Hereafter\\\" and \\\"The Life of Muhammad\\\".

In the early hours of October 17 2006, a Yemeni secret police raid swept up eight foreigners living in Sana\'a, under surveillance by the CIA and British intelligence, and at least 12 other men across Yemen. Yemeni authorities insist they dismantled an al-Qa\'ida cell and disrupted a gun-running ring to neighboring Somalia.

It was subsequently reported that the key to the raids was Anwar al-Awlaki (identified in the media as \'Abu Atiq\') who was arrested six weeks before the October 17 swoop.

Imam al-Awlaki is believed to be held in Central Security Prison in Sana\'a. Locals in Sanaa insist, perhaps apocryphally, that the two stories of the complex above ground sit atop eight stories underground, where torture rooms and darkened cells are often used.

Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have repeatedly raised concerns regarding arrests and detentions by the Political Security Organ in Yemen, which are carried out with total disregard for the rule of law and for Yemen's international human rights obligations. Amnesty states that, “arrests are carried out without the judicial supervision required by law and those detained were invariably subjected to lengthy incommunicado detention and interrogations, during which some detainees claim that they were tortured or ill-treated. Detainees have also been denied access to lawyers, as well as being denied the opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention before a court.”

For more information, please visit http://www.cageprisoners.com/campaigns.php?id=412

2. Action Required

a. Write to the Yemeni Ambassador to UK, Mohamed Taha Mustafa and urge him to work for the immediate release of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki.

Embassy of the Republic of Yemen
HE Mr. Mohamed Taha Mustafa
57 Cromwell Road
London
SW7 2ED

Tel: +44 0207 584 6607
Fax: +44 0207 589 3350
Email: info@yemenembassy.org.uk

b. Write to the Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett to make representations to her Yemeni counterparts to work for Imam Anwar al-Awlaki's immediate release.

Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Tel: +44 0207 008 1500
Fax: +44 0207 839 2417
Email: private.office@fco.gov.uk

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Sample letter is given below for your convenience


Sample Letter to Mohamed Taha Mustafa

[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]


Embassy of the Republic of Yemen
HE Mr. Mohamed Taha Mustafa
57 Cromwell Road
London
SW7 2ED


Dear Mr Mustafa,

Re: Detention of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki

I am writing to request you to work for the immediate release of Imam Anwar Al Awlaki, a prominent Muslim scholar, who was arrested in Sana over three months ago.

Several accusations have been made against Imam al-Awlaki linking him to terrorism. However, no evidence has ever been produced against him. On the contrary, Imam al-Awlaki is a leading Muslim scholar with a global following, and who was a leading figure in inter-faith dialogue whilst living in the USA. He has openly condemned the 9-11 attacks on many occasions.

It has been reported that he is being held in Central Security Prison in Sana. I am very concerned as to whether he is being treated according to international human rights standards as Yemeni authorities have frequently been criticized by human rights groups such as Amnesty International, for mistreating prisoners and detainees.

Hence, I request you to ensure that Imam Anwar Al Awlaki's rights are respected and that he is offered a fair trial with full access to independent legal representation. If he is not found guilty, he must be released without delay.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter,


Yours Sincerely,


[Your Signature]

[Your Name]


Sample Letter to Margaret Beckett

[Your Name]
[Your Address]


[Date]


Rt. Hon. Margaret Beckett MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH


Dear Ms Margaret Beckett,

Re: Detention of Muslim Scholar in Yemen, Imam Anwar al-Awlaki

I am writing out of deep concern for the health and well-being of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, a prominent Muslim scholar, who was arrested in Sana, Yemen over three months ago.

Several accusations have been made against Imam al-Awlaki linking him to terrorism. However, no evidence has ever been produced against him. On the contrary, Imam al-Awlaki is a leading Muslim scholar with a global following, and who was a leading figure in inter-faith dialogue whilst living in the USA. He has openly condemned the 9-11 attacks on many occasions.

It has been reported that he is being held in Central Security Prison in Sana. I am very concerned as to whether he is being treated according to international human rights standards, as the Yemeni authorities have frequently come under criticism by human rights groups such as Amnesty International, for having no regard or respect for human rights laws when arresting and detaining people. Often arrests are carried out without any judicial supervision. Detainees are held and interrogated for lengthy periods without access to legal counsel or recourse to fair trial to challenge the decision of arrest. They are often tortured..

I request you to make representations to your Yemeni counterparts to ensure that Imam Anwar al- Awlaki's rights are respected and that he is offered a fair trial with full access to independent legal representation. If he is not found guilty, he must be released without delay.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter,


Yours Sincerely,


[Your Signature]

[Your Name]

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Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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