Ex-Black Militant Awaits Trial
WASHINGTON (AP) Supporters of a former black militant awaiting trial for murder contended Friday that anti-Muslim sentiment amplified by America's war against terrorism could send an innocent man to Georgia's death row.
Panelists at a gathering in support of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, a 1960s civil rights activist formerly known as H. Rap Brown, said facts of the case cast doubt on his guilt and asserted that the death penalty is used disproportionately against blacks and Muslims.
Al-Amin, who claims to be the target of a government conspiracy, is charged in connection with a March 2000 Atlanta gun fight that killed a Fulton County sheriff's deputy and wounded another. Jury selection is to begin Jan. 7.
``If you're a Muslim, you're in a war,'' Abdul Alim Musa, a Washington minister, said at the National Press Club session. ``So you have to build up your courage, build up your strength and build up your backbone.''
Panelists said injustices have increased since the Sept. 11 hijackings and terror attacks. The 19 hijackers identified by the FBI were Muslims.
Friday's conference featured speakers from Amnesty International, Solidarity USA and other groups that stress racial and religious tolerance. Speakers gave little evidence for their assertions about Al-Amin or application of the death penalty.
In the 1960s, H. Rap Brown was a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was known for making militant threats. He once called violence a necessary tool for blacks and suggested that he might shoot Lady Bird Johnson, the former president's widow.
After converting to Islam and changing his name while serving a five-year prison term for his role in a robbery that ended in a shootout with New York police, Al-Amin went to Atlanta in 1976.
Johari Abdul-Malik, a Muslim chaplain at Washington's Howard University, said he suspects Al-Amin was framed.
``Somebody has a vendetta against people like H. Rap Brown, because he stood up during a period of great repression in this country and said it mattered to him,'' Abdul-Malik said.
Back to home page