An Interview with Attorney Karima Al-Amin, Wife of Imam Jamil Al-Amin
Karima Al-Amin is a practicing attorney in Atlanta, specializing in personal injury, immigration law, and family and business law. Since the arrest of her husband, Imam Jamil Al-Amin, she has had to juggle her roles as a working mother, a diligent attorney advocating for the equal rights of all in the legal system, and speaker on the lecture circuit.
What is the current status of Imam Jamil’s case?
Immediately after Imam Jamil’s trial and conviction, in March 2002, we filed a motion for a new trial. We raised points relative to trial misstatements and behavior on the part of the prosecution, and the issue of a tainted jury pool. During jury selection, the overriding two issues were the Black Panther affiliation and the religion of Islam. Essentially, individuals who voiced any appreciation for the Black Panthers, the [civil rights] Movement, or Muslims were disqualified for bias. It seemed in order to be a juror, a person had to express no knowledge, understanding, or appreciation for the Imam or the Movement. Consequently, the Imam did not have a jury of his peers. There were many inconsistencies brought out during the trial. For instance, the identification of the assailant did not match the Imam, and the State of Georgia never produced any fingerprints of the Imam on any weapons. Since the trial we have gathered information not available to us during the trial regarding the confession of an individual made shortly after the incident.
In July 2003 the trial judge denied our motion for a new trial. We then appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which also refused to allow a new trial. Finally the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear an appeal to the decision of the Georgia courts. So now we have a November deadline to file a Habeas Corpus hearing in state court. The purpose of the Habeas Corpus motion is to cite all the problems with the original trial. There is little likelihood of success in the state court, but in order to have a federal hearing there must be an active case. If the state courts deny the Habeas Corpus then we can go the federal courts to show the flaws in the trial. Our hope is that the federal courts will remand the case back to the state for re-trial.
Is Imam Jamil being treated differently from other prisoners?
The Imam is holding up well, even though he is being held under a “high maximum status” within a state prison in southeastern Georgia, and is being treated harshly. He is being held in his cell for 23 hours a day, and is only permitted out of his cell in handcuffs to exercise in a “dog pen.” Five guards escort the Imam whenever he leaves his cell for a visit, and he is not allowed at any time to mingle with the general prison population. Moreover, he has to endure punitive actions on the part of the prison administration, in the form of strip searches, censorship of legal mail, and denial of grievances. The State of Georgia has no basis for holding the Imam in solitary confinement. This treatment must stem from the fact he is Muslim, and the paranoia on the part of many non-Muslims when relating to Muslims. Although the Imam was incarcerated in five maximum-security New York State prisons, from 1973 to 1976, during the time he was known as H. Rap Brown and was also a Muslim, he was held in the general population. He was never held in solitary confinement.
How can Muslims help?
We urge people to contribute to the Imam’s legal defense by sending donations to the Justice Fund, P. O. Box 93963, Atlanta, Georgia 30377. We desperately need funds for this next round of appeals.
We also encourage Muslims to send letters to the Department of Corrections in Georgia, and Reidsville Prison to express dissatisfaction with the harsh treatment of the Imam. Correspondence should be addressed to: Warden, Georgia State Prison, 300 1st Avenue South, Reidsville, GA 30453.
My family extends its heartfelt appreciation for all efforts on behalf of the Imam, and we pray that Allah continue to guide us and grant us success in this life and the Hereafter.