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Tampa event opposes U.S. war and political repression

By Jessica Schwartz |
February 23, 2015
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 Panelists Hassan Shibly (left), Cassia Laham, and Mick Kelly, at Tampa program
Panelists Hassan Shibly (left), Cassia Laham, and Mick Kelly, at Tampa program on state repression and the war on terror. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
 Organizers, speakers at Tampa program on state repression
Organizers, speakers at Tampa program on state repression with banner demanding justice for Rasmea Odeh.

Tampa, FL - A group of 50 people gathered at the First United Church of Tampa for a panel discussion, “State Repression and the War on Terror.” Speakers focused on the U.S. government targeting of Arab-Americans, Muslims and anti-war activists for political repression.

“Only the fish that opens its mouth gets in trouble,” said Attorney Hassan Shibly of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Shibly advised individuals to remain silent and call their lawyer when facing intimidation and questioning by the FBI. CAIR offers representation to clients for free.

Another panelist, Cassia Laham, spoke about the growing student movement in opposition to U.S. support for Israeli and for the liberation of all of Palestine. She helped found Students for Justice in Palestine at University of Florida.

“We have a duty to keep organizing together to keep moving forward,” Laham said. Currently she is active with People’s Opposition to Imperialism, War, and Racism (POWIR) in Miami and organizes in solidarity with Palestinian American women’s leader Rasmea Odeh.

Rasmea Odeh is a 68-year-old woman who was imprisoned, tortured and raped by the Israeli military in their illegal occupation of Palestine in 1969. On March 12 in Detroit, Judge Drain will sentence her. This follows an unfair U.S. trial where Odeh was not allowed to tell her story, while the lies of the Israeli military were accepted as fact. Rasmea Odeh has won awards in Chicago for her work with women and children, but the U.S. government is set on punishing her.

“Targeting of Arab Americans and Muslims for the sake of ‘safety’ is a lie used by the state to perpetuate fear of these oppressed communities and to instill support of U.S. wars overseas,” said Mick Kelly from Minneapolis.

“The U.S. has built an empire that encompasses every continent, the people of the Middle East are defeating that empire. They are fighting to get the boot of the U.S. and Israel of their necks. We need to stand in solidarity with all those who are fighting for their liberation and defeat attempts to repress ourselves and others,” continued Kelly. Kelly is one of the anti-war and international solidarity activists whose home was turned upside down by the FBI in 2010.

Kelly also spoke about Rasmea Odeh’s trial in Detroit, “Through organizing and speaking out, it is a way to make a breakthrough.”

The CSFR-Tampa is organizing a local protest on March 12 in support of Rasmea Odeh. One local leader will be attending Odeh’s sentencing in Detroit.

To follow CSFR-Tampa for updates, like their page at