WASHINGTON, March 21 (RNS)--Representatives of four leading Muslim organizations gatheredTuesday to call for a fair trail of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin,the former Black Panther who was arrested Monday night in anAlabama shed.

Al-Amin, who was known in the 1960s as H. Rap Brown, was wanted oncharges of fatally shooting an Georgia sheriff's deputy and woundinganother when the two deputies tried to serve Al-Amin with a warrantMarch 16.

After fleeing the Atlanta area, Al-Amin was found hiding in a shedoutside Montgomery, Ala. Al-Amin now faces charges of fleeingpersecution in addition to the murder charge.

In Washington, the four Muslim groups pleaded for a fair trial forAl-Amin and stressed his past community service.

"We want to ensure that Jamil receives proper legal representation,"the four groups said in a statement. "To that end, we will offer ourservices to his legal team in Atlanta."

The coalition--led by the American Muslim Council, the Council onAmerican-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and theMuslim American Society--after previously calling on Al-Amin tosurrender to authorities, sought to portray Al-Amin as a communityactivist who had been falsely accused in the past.

"We wish to remind everyone of Imam Jamil Al-Amin's long-standingrole as a community leader who had a positive impact on the lives of somany people," the statement read. "The charges of Imam Jamil areespecially troubling because they are inconsistent with what is known ofhis moral character and past behavior as a Muslim."

In 1966, Al-Amin--then known as Brown--became a leader in theStudent Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Alabama. At the same time,he was the honorary minister for justice in the Black Panther partyduring a temporary alliance between the two organizations. One yearlater, when SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael was ousted, Brown was giventhe post.

Brown converted to Islam while serving a five-year prison sentenceon robbery charges. After being released in 1976, Brown founded a mosquein Atlanta and became the spiritual leader, or imam, for a small Muslimcommunity in Atlanta's West End.

The following statement was released in Washington Tuesday by leading national Muslim groups concerned about the case of Imam Jamil Al-Amin.


Islamic leaders concerned that justice is served, facts berevealed

WASHINGTON, DC, 3/21/2000)--Leaders of national AmericanMuslim organizations, along with representatives from thecommunity of Imam Jamil Al-Amin, held a news conference inreaction to the arrest of Al-Amin and several others Mondaynight in Alabama. Authorities allege that Al-Amin was involvedin a shooting incident late Thursday in Atlanta, Ga., that leftone sheriff's deputy dead and another critically wounded.

A joint statement issued at the news conference read in part:

"We are not here today to judge the guilt or innocence of anyparty to this tragic series of events. Just as we do notprejudge, we ask that others wait until all the facts are known.In America, as in Islam, anyone accused of a crime is innocentuntil proven guilty.

"At this point, the role of the Muslim community is four-fold.

"First, we wish to remind everyone of Imam Jamil Al-Amin'slongstanding role as a community leader who had a positiveimpact on the lives of so many people. The charges against ImamJamil are especially troubling because they are inconsistentwith what is known of his moral character and past behavior as aMuslim.

"Second, we want to ensure that Imam Jamil receives proper legalrepresentation. To that end, we will offer our services to hislegal team in Atlanta. This team will then address all aspectsof the case.

"Third, we will see that his trial is monitored by observers whowill insist that any legal proceedings be fair and impartial. Wealso believe that this process can best take place in a locationthat allows Imam Jamil to be tried by a jury of his peers.

"Finally, we make note of a past incident in which Imam Jamilwas apparently falsely accused of a similar, though far lessserious crime. At that time, the alleged victim recanted andclaimed that he was pressured by the authorities to name ImamJamil as the perpetrator.

"Our ultimate goal is to see that justice is done. As it says inthe Quran, Islam's revealed text: 'O you who believe. Standfirmly for justice, as witnesses to God...'" (Quran, 2:135)

American Muslim Council (AMC)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Muslim American Society (MAS)