Parkhurst: Defending Tarek Mehanna
The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Dec 01, 2011 @ 08:36 AM
Thank you for the thoughtful column about Tarek Mehanna in this Sunday’s paper (“The crimes of Tarek Mehanna,” by Rick Holmes, Nov. 27). Although Mehanna is opposed to the U.S. presence in Iraq, so are many other people, and as Holmes points out, he has actually done nothing.
I’ve attended his trial three times, and heard both the prosecution and defense in action. It seems to me that Tarek Mehanna was a voice of moderation in a circle of young men who were not all as moderate as he was. For example, your editorial quoted him blessing his friend who went to fight in Somalia. The friend, a witness for the prosecution, was asked how Tarek reacted to the news that he was going to fight in Somalia. He responded that Tarek told him to think of his wife and children, who accompanied him to Somalia; the wife later died of malaria. Tarek did not accompany him, and if anything discouraged him from going, according to the prosecution’s witness. The fact that his friend did go does not make Tarek guilty by association.
Translating Mein Kampf or Das Kapital does not lead to a presumption that the translator is advocating fascism or Marxism, but rather presenting these ideas for analysis and discussion. Translating works on jihad, however, seems to be illegal rather than an exercise in free speech. I’ve read that there have been many cases brought against Muslims in the U.S. since the Homeland Security laws were enacted. I think that later generations may look at this as we look at the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two. Fear, and the attempt to thwart perceived threats, can lead us to disregard the guarantees of human rights at the heart of the Constitution. Holmes’ column reminded us that our justice system is based on principles of presumed innocence that don’t change. Tarek Mehanna has faith in our system of justice, and didn’t flee the country. As his web site says, he has nothing to hide. Let’s hope his faith is justified.
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