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March 21, 2003

AMA National Chairman Dr. Agha Saeed Testifies
on Behalf of Prof. Sami Al-Arian

Tampa, Florida –Dr. Agha Saeed, National Chairman American Muslim Alliance, was the first witness called on March 21 by the defense to testify on behalf of Prof. Sami Al-Arian, a leading Palestinian academic and intellectual, who has been charged by the Justice Department of being a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and aiding and abetting its violent activities.

Dr. Agha Saeed told the court: “Prof. Sami Al-Arian is my friend and during the last ten years we have worked together to mainstream American Muslim politics. We have been working together to replace the culture of despair with culture of hope and the culture of bullet with the culture of ballot”.

“As a senior statesman of the American Muslim community, Prof. Al-Arian has helped us raise $200,000” Dr. Saeed told the court, “so that we can build citizen efficacy through voter registration, civic education, and candidate training.”

During the cross-examination, Dr. Saeed explained Prof. Al-Arian’s call for ‘Jihad’ by pointing out that this word has at least 7 meanings in the Islamic theological lexicon: self-purification and self-perfection, earning an honest living, public benefit, removal of social vices and inadequacies [poverty, illiteracy, hunger, etc.], speaking truth to power, generosity of heart, mind, and soul, and taking military action when subjected to oppression and injustice.

“I believe that Prof. Arian had used the word ‘jihad’ to induce a spirit of self-purification and public benefit among the community members”, Dr. Agha Saeed told the court.

When asked: “What do you think of Prof. Al-Arian now after having read the indictment”, Dr. Saeed said: “The legal system in this country is founded on the belief that a person is innocent till proven guilty. The Justice Department has made very serious allegation against Prof. Arian but at this stage these are mere allegation. And they will remain so unless and until he is proven guilty in an open court and under open evidence.”