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Government Stumbles in Holy Land Trial

On October 22, the jury decision from October 19 was finally opened. The trial had been going on in downtown Dallas since August, but the prosecution of the largest pro-Palestinian charity in America had been going on since the late 1990s. Right after 9/11/2001, the charity was shut down and their assets were frozen. The government prosecutors took a long time to prepare for trial, then ended up looking like what they are.

The judge declared a mistrial, a maneuver that, while laying the basis for another possible trial and the continued short-term suppression of the charity, nevertheless represented a stiff setback to the Bush administration's six-year effort to tarnish Muslim charitable efforts.

One of the five leading defendants was found "not guilty" outright on 31 of 32 counts, and two of the others had most charges dismissed. But recantations by three of the 12 jurors created a confusing ending for the days' decisions. The prosecutors quickly called the entire process a "hung jury," and publicly vowed retry the defendants. It remains to be seen whether or not they really will, because the steam is going out of the anti-Islam witch hunt in America.

Dallas civil rights activists were all smiles. The Hungry for Justice Coalition said in a statement, "The charges brought against these individuals were viewed by many people in this country and worldwide as an attempt to block humanitarian assistance to Palestinians suffering under a brutal Israeli occupation." It continued: "They were also seen as a means to chill the First Amendment rights and charitable giving of American Muslims and other people of conscience opposed to our nation's one-sided policies in the Middle East."

The coalition called the proceedings "in essence an Israeli trial tried on American soil in which guilt by association was used as a substitute for actual evidence."

The group called for the release of all the defendants and the dropping of all charges and sanctions against the foundation.

--Jim Lane

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