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Tampa rally in solidarity with Odeh and Osmakac – targets of political repression

By Jessica Schwartz

Tampa, FL – Anti-war activists protested outside the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse on Nov. 4 to demand justice in two cases of political repression. One is the current trial of Palestinian American activist Rasmea Odeh. The other is the sentencing of Tampa Bay native Sami Osmakac, an Albanian American and Muslim found guilty in an FBI entrapment case.

Local activist Jared Hoey explained, “Rasmea Odeh has been a tireless activist in her community, working to advocate for women’s rights and immigrants’ rights as the Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network. It is ironic that this strong worker for social justice is on trial this election day.”

Danya Zituni a student at the University of South Florida stated, “Students for Justice in Palestine stands with Rasmea, as we stand for all political prisoners. We demand justice for Rasmea, as well we demand for all Palestinians under occupation.”

An immigrant rights leader, Marisol Marquez, spoke out against the potential deportation of Odeh, “We fully support Rasmea Odeh because she is an immigrant from Palestine. Like many immigrants who to come to the U.S., she was forced to come here as a result of the actions of the U.S. government in the Middle East” Marquez continued, “Like many of us in Raices en Tampa know, the errors on immigration papers are expensive, and heavily felt in the homes of immigrants.”

Gage Lacharite of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society said, “What the United States government failed to realize is that as long as they continue to spy on us, as long as they continue to frame us for crimes, as long as they continue locking us up for speaking out against their crimes, we will only get stronger. Our case against them only gets more damning. Our resolve to see this through till the end becomes greater, and our understanding that it becomes a struggle of us against them becomes clearer.”

Alongside Odeh’s case, Jared Hamil spoke on the railroading of Sami Osmakac. Osmakac is a young man suffering from mental illness who was coerced into a crime by FBI informants. Hamil announced, “Tomorrow at this courthouse, Sami Osmakac will be sentenced for bogus charges, trumped up by an FBI entrapment case. This is part of an ongoing repression of Arab-Americans and Muslims in the United States. Hundreds of cases like Sami’s have happened as a way to fuel the “War on Terror” and as a way to silence those from occupied countries.”

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