A Lesson In Charity: Mohamed Salam

Tribunal Member: I don’t know your culture very well, but … in our culture people just don’t step up and say, “I’ll pay for the trip for you.”

Prisoner: “In our culture, in Islam, there is such a thing … Indeed, it is an obligation for any Muslim who is rich to pay for someone who is poor.”

Andy Worthington is the source for this piece of courtroom drama that recorded in documents he revealed in his book and on his website.

The ignorant arrogance of the US government, in this case in the person of its military officer who sat on one of the spurious tribunals at Guantanamo, shocks me.  A Wikipedia entry, easily located with a Google search revealed this:

“Zakāt or alms-giving is the practice of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It is considered to be a personal responsibility for Muslims to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate inequality.  Zakat consists of spending 2.5% of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy, including slaves, debtors and travelers. A Muslim may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), rather than to achieve additional divine reward.”

I have never studied Islam, but being a reasonably literate person, I was vaguely acquainted with the tenets of that religion.  Surely, a person whose work requires her or him to sit on a tribunal where the persons who appear before them are likely to be of that faith might have take a few minutes to do a Google search if she or he were uninformed or needed a little refresher.

Not a US official. No, indeed.  It is the US way or no way at all.  No knowledge is required.

This is loathesome to me.  And my tax money pays the salary of these people.

Mohamed Salam, from Yemen, is the young man who replied with such dignity in this instance.  The trip which the generous person paid for was first to Pakistan for some medical care and then to Faisalabad, Afghanistan to study the Quran.  He was seized in the house where he stayed in Faisalabad, sold to the US for bounty.

There is not a shred of evidence that this young man Mohamed Salam engaged in any violence toward anyone and yet he continues to be held without charge in that hell on earth in Guantánamo.  He has been tortured as well as imprisoned all these years.

The United States cannot be held accountable, unfortunately, for ignorant arrogance, but it certainly can be and should be for crimes against humanity.  I demand justice for Mohamed Salam.

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One Response to “A Lesson In Charity: Mohamed Salam”

  1. No War No Torture » Blog Archive » Another Teacher of the Quran: Abdullah Al-Yafi Says:

    […] An interesting conversation with a reader of this blog over the weekend leads me to take a minute to think about an issue that arises in this work of writing about the remaining prisoners in the US torture camp at Guantanamo.  Being a person from a Western country, I am ignorant about Asia, including the Middle East.  I know no Asian language, I am completely ignorant of many things that the majority of the people on this planet know.  I must be careful not to fall into the arrogant ignorance that is the trademark of people from the US, and which is chronicled in this blog.  Many of us who are trying to understand the stories of these men and boys who have been tortured with our tax money and who are advocates for them in our own ways are astounded to discover that an Arab in Afghanistan would be in trouble.  Aren’t they all Arabs? […]

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