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Big Detroit rally for Rasmea Odeh’s day in court

By Tom Burke

Rasmea Odeh speaking at Detroit rally.

Detroit, MI – More than 100 people joined a rally in solidarity with Palestinian women’s leader Rasmea Odeh as she went to court here Nov.13. Agents of the Department of Homeland Security arrested Odeh on Oct. 22 at her home in Evergreen Park, a suburb of Chicago. Odeh is charged with immigration fraud. Allegedly, in her application for citizenship, she did not mention that she was arrested in Palestine 45 years ago, by an Israeli military court that detains Palestinians without charge – a court that has over 200 children in prison today and does not recognize the rights of Palestinians to due process.

Hatem Abudayyeh, who works with Rasmea Odeh and is one of the Anti-War 23 raided by the FBI three years ago, said outside the court, “Rasmea is guilty of nothing and this is a ridiculous charge. She is a 65-year-old leader of Palestinian, Arab-American and Muslim women in this country. The immigration charge is a pretext to go after her. Just as the U.S. government used political repression against African American, labor and other movements in the past, it is now repressing movements for social justice in our country again today. The U.S. and Israeli governments are angry because we are effective at organizing and changing attitudes of the people in this country about war and occupation in the Middle East. The boycott, divest and sanctions movement against Israeli Apartheid is growing and spreading; making a dent. The U.S. government is not able to criminalize the political activity of the Anti-War 23 and they will not be able to do it to Rasmea Odeh either!”

Another protester, Farah Erzouki, came with 12 students from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Erzouki, who is with Students for Justice in Palestine, said, “We represent the SJP both in Michigan and nationally and came to show solidarity and support for Rasmea Odeh. We oppose the U.S. government targeting people’s political beliefs. It affects groups like SJP on campus, with many chapters and leaders facing disciplinary charges for expressing their free speech or protesting on campus. So we plan to leaflet on campus and do educational forums. We oppose the repression of all people, but especially Palestinians.”

Students for a Democratic Society in Chicago sent Kait McIntyre to Detroit to speak at the rally: “Rasmea’s dedication to justice is shown by her leadership on the Arab Women’s Committee and leading work in the areas of civil liberties and immigration rights at the Arab American Action Network. We believe her work should be applauded, not condemned!”

Protesters came from Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan, as well as from Chicago and Milwaukee. Solidarity rallies also took place in Oakland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Tampa, Gainesville, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City.

At today’s arraignment lawyer Jim Fennerty explained that Rasmea Odeh pled not guilty. The lawyers will begin to go through 600 pages of documents and plan for a trial. There will be more protests at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, in Detroit, in the coming months. Detroit is Odeh’s original city of U.S. residence.

Before travelling home by bus with scores of supporters from Chicago, Rasmea was smiling and in good spirits. She joined the crowd in front of the court building, stating, “Thank you for your support. Thank you from me. It means a lot for me and my people!”

Detroit rally demand drop charges against Rasmea Odeh.

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