A Letter From An American Prison

While Mr. Haddad's letter, reproduced below, is initially addressed to one member of the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism (CCAWR), it's really to all who are working to defend civil liberties and end racial profiling. Suggested action is given at the end of the letter. You may also forward this letter to various human rights organizations worldwide. Mr. Haddad's only crime is that his visa was expired and he overstayed. Immigrant Muslims are kept in solitary confinement because when they meet other prisoners, they are generally very effective Du'aat and people begin to convert to Islam. Many American Christian Fundamentalists desire to protect even their prisoners from Islamic workers. This is American freedom of religion in the prisons.
- M. Amir Ali

Jan. 27, 2002

Dear Mr. Thayer,

Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful letter of Jan. 22. I do greatly appreciate your interest and efforts for my release. Please extend my regards and gratitude to all members of CCAWR.

I am sorry to say that I was not able to see the protests because the window in my cell is "Whited out" to allow light in but not for me to see anything out. I was able, however, to hear about it from other inmates who own small radios and heard it on the news.

Allow me to take this opportunity to bring you slightly into my world here at MCC [Metropolitan Correctional Center] Chicago. I am in a 6' x 9' solitary cell that seems to have been designed for extremely violent or extremely troublesome inmates. The bed is situated in the center of the room with about a foot and a half on either side of it to the wall. The bed is a metal slab with four legs bolted to the floor and fitted on all four corners with special fittings to hold straps if it should become necessary.

I have a camera fixed on me right outside my door that has completely deprived me of any kind of privacy since that door has a small window which allows them to check and see if I'm still there around the clock. It's for my safety, they say.

I am allowed one 15 minute call to my family every 30 days. My food is handed to me through a slit in the door 2-1/2" x 12". The same opening is used to put the cuffs on me before the door is opened for any reason. I am allowed 3 showers a week for which I have to be cuffed to walk 10 paces to the shower that has a door similar to my cell's door. I'm only un-cuffed after I'm inside and the door is locked.

I also get 1 hour of recreation 5 days a week, and what a joke that is. I am led, cuffed, from my cell to a cage (literally) just down the hall which is the same size as my cell. In it is a homemade stationary bicycle that has no resistance and thus is worthless for exercising. I have to wait until the cage is empty because I cannot be put in there with anyone else, for my own safety, they say.

I have made numerous pleas to the warden and others to let me speak with my family once a week, but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. I have been under these conditions for the past month and a half, which can drive a person to the extreme limits of his/her mental, emotional, and psychological capabilities.

Where do we draw the line between justice and oppression? Between prosecution and persecution? Is due process supposed to serve society or is society supposed to be enslaved by "due process"? Many people on this side of the fence, I'm sorry to say, have become Pavlovic dogs of sorts when it comes to "due process." I have been treated like the worst criminal you can imagine when I have not even been charged with a crime, save overstaying my visa, which I was in the process of remedying.

All of this has done nothing but harden my will and strengthened my resolve to overcome and persevere. Your efforts and the efforts of others are like torches of hope that light my way in this deep and dark tunnel that I've entered and I am eternally grateful for that.

Please convey my warmest greetings and thanks to all those who planned, participated or supported your efforts. May God bless you all.

Rabih Haddad

P.S. Please forgive my spelling. I did not realize how dependant I've become on my computer's spell-check until now.

P.S.2 I forgot to mention the waves of cockroaches that invade the cell at night and crawl all over everything, including me.

Bismillah irRahman irRaheem
In the Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Most Kind

Salaam alaikum wa rahmatullah & Greetings of Peace,

I must ask you again: What ever happened to our US Constitution and the Civil Rights of those accused? When did our government become a government of secret trials and imprisonment without trial? The above letter from Rabih Haddad is disturbing to me and if you believe in the "WAY OF LIFE IN AMERICA" it should be upsetting to you!!! Why have we blindly followed the same path the German people followed during the rise of Hitler!??? My father fought in WWII to protect our nation and our constitution. My great- uncles, grandfather, uncles, brothers and countless friends fought to protect our freedoms and our constitution...yet it seems we are throwing away all that, for what?

Above is a letter sent by Assistant Imam (Muslim minister) Rabih Haddad from his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in downtown Chicago. Haddad is well known in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area as an ecumenical leader and assistant Imam of a local mosque. He is co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation, the second largest Muslim charity in the U.S., which has had its assets frozen since December 14th, even though the government has yet to produce any evidence against it.

Haddad, along with thousands of others, has been racially profiled by our government for being Arab and Muslim. He has been locked up in solitary confinement since December 14th, without criminal charges, denied bond, without the government releasing any of the alleged "evidence" against him.

The Detroit Free Press, Detroit Metro Times, Congressman John Conyers and the ACLU have sued Atty General Ashcroft to open the heretofore closed court hearings, which even his family, let alone the rest of the public and press, have been barred from. For more information, please go to the following URL:



You can also help support Rabih Haddad by sending a letter to him at the following address:

Rabih Haddad
Metropolitan Correctional Center
71 W. Van Buren Street
Chicago, IL 60605

As several letters sent to him have not delivered by the prison authorities, we strongly recommend that you send letters via certified mail, return receipt requested. Please consider enclosing a money order made out to him also. In order for him to mail stuff back, he needs to purchase stamps from the MCC commissary. That's also the only way he can get all but the most basic toiletries and other goods - nothing can be sent in from the outside, aside from reading materials.

Write/call/fax the following officials and demand that they stand up for fair treatment for Rabih. No prisoner should be treated this way. MCC officials claim he is in solitary confinement "for his own protection," but then why the punitive visitation policies? Why the humiliating shackles? ...all for a man who has no criminal charges. Address messages of protest to:

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney, Northern District, Illinois
219 S. Dearborn St., 5th Floor, Chicago 60604

Phone: (312) 353-5300 Fax: (312) 353-2067

Metropolitan Correctional Center: 312-233-0567. Push option 4 for "staff directory," and ask the operator if you can speak with Mrs. Kenner, the warden's secretary. Fax: 312-322-0565

Sincerely Your Sister in Peace,
Sister Anisah David, director


Single Muslims of the High Plains [Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin]
Brookings Chapter - South Dakota Peace & Justice



We could learn a lot from Crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors....but they all exist very nicely in the same box.



E-mail your comments to amirali@ilaam.net