The Arab-American Civil Rights League (ACRL) is honoring one of Rasmea Odeh’s prosecutors at their “1st Annual Justice Award Tribute”on May 1st.
Odeh, a Palestinian-American icon, was arrested and charged for allegedly falsifying information on her immigration papers when Odeh entered the United States 20 years ago. Rasmea was convicted and sentenced to 12-18 months in U.S. Federal prison, fined $1,000 and also faces deportation to Jordan and revocation of her citizenship, pending the results of her appeal, which may begin this September. Odeh was not given a fair trial, according to her defense team—and now the ACRL is honoring the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade, who is responsible for putting Odeh on trial.
“We at the Rasmea Defense Committee were stunned by this announcement when we saw it two days ago. We don’t understand how an Arab civil rights organization could possibly award the initiator of such a clear campaign of repression and harassment as Rasmea’s prosecution. We want to give ACRL every opportunity to rescind the offer, and if it doesn’t, we are thinking about next steps,” Executive Director of the Arab American Action Network, Hatem Abudayyeh, told Palestine in America.
This news comes as a shock to many in the Arab community. Especially since the ACRL wrote a letter to Judge Gershwin A. Drain, urging him to release Odeh, prior to her sentencing hearing last March. The ACRL expressed their “disappointed in the federal judge’s ruling on November 10, 2014 to detain 67 year old Rasmea Odeh…” the organization’s statement read.
McQuade helped direct the prosecution led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel. He repeatedly referred to Rasmea as a “terrorist and consistently questioned the validity of her torture at the hands of the Israeli military.
McQuade co-signed a pretrial motion to Judge Drain that addressed concerns the prosecutors had with Rasmea’s supporters protesting outside of the courthouse, during the mornings before the trial began..
“Such conduct is without a doubt an improper influence on a jury, which, as the Court instructs, is to make its decision based only on evidence presented at trial and nothing else.” the motion stated.
The motion influenced Judge Drain to put a partial sequestration on the jury during Odeh’s trial.
However, ACRL has defended its choice to honor McQuade.
“McQuade has stood with the Arab-American community in Dearborn when no one else did,” an ACRL spokesperson told Palestine in America.
She told PiA, when Dearborn was ranked No. 2 nationwide for terrorism in 2014, McQuade spoke in defense of the Arab-American community. Last August, she stood up in front of the Dearborn City Hall and other government officials to express her support to the community and disapproval of the ranking.
Rasmea’s Defense Committee urges Odeh’s supporters to take steps to tell the ACRL to withdraw the award and rescind its invitation to McQuade. They ask that supporters call the ACRL’s Chairman of the Board, tweet at the ACRL (@ACRLMICH), and write on ACRL’s Facebook page.