Texas: Islamophobia and the trumped-up charges against Ali Danial Hemani
Dallas, TX – For nearly four months, Ali Danial Hemani, a 25-year-old Pakistani-American from Lewisville, Texas, has been held in jail without the possibility of bail, facing charges under an obscure, ambiguous and scarcely raised code buried within a gun control law passed in the 1960s. His arrest on February 10 of this year follows about three years of his family being the target of unfounded and Islamophobic surveillance at the hands of the FBI, allegedly in response to family and religious visits to Iran.
Hemani is a Shi'a Muslim, and there is a very political motivation behind his arrest. The FBI alleges that he and his family have ties to the Iranian military and government due to the trips they have made there. The federal government used this as justification to conduct a raid of the Hemani family’s home in August 2022, in search of anything that could incriminate the family.
The FBI found Ali Danial Hemani in possession of a small amount of drugs, which under no normal circumstance would deny someone the possibility of bail, but because of a legally-owned firearm, they are attempting to persecute him as a supposed addict ineligible to be in possession of a gun. The legislation Hemani is being charged under is the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prohibits drug users from possessing firearms – a gun control measure which was aimed to disarm Black people and oppressed people in the context of the radical movements of the time, and has also been declared unconstitutional in U.S. v. Connelly in Texas and U.S. v. Harrison in Oklahoma.
Since February 10, Hemani has been detained without bail, on account of being a “danger to society” and a “risk”, citing he had been indoctrinated by “radical ideology”. On March 9, there was a bail hearing, where the primary focus of the prosecutors had nothing to do with the actual crime committed. Instead, they focused on his and his family's alleged Iran connections, and allegations against Danial Hemani’s mother as a radical extremist, which clearly demonstrates the Islamophobic roots of this case. On March 21, Magistrate Judge Kimberly C Priest Johnson denied the motion for pretrial release, justifying the denial with similar Islamophobic rhetoric to that of the hearing.
On April 25, Hemani’s attorney filed a motion to revoke or amend the detention order. On April 28, U.S. Federal Attorneys Brit Featherston and Heather Rattan responded to the motion with continued Islamophobic rhetoric.
A hearing on a motion to dismiss the case is scheduled for June 15 at 10 a.m. to be heard by Magistrate Judge Kimberly C Priest Johnson.
There is a petition to free Ali Danial Hemani at https://www.change.org/p/help-us-free-ali-danial-hemani and the family is accepting donations for a legal defense fund on Zelle at [email protected]. The case docket is available for free here: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/66799720/united-states-v-hemani/