IHRC /PF / 95 /OA


"I am not the first person to be imprisoned for my faith, nor will I be the last."

Last updated 14.11.97

Sheikh Omer Abderrahmane, is an elderly Egyptian cleric imprisoned in 1995 under sedition laws last used during the American civil war. Convicted of wishing to blow up the world trade centre and overthrowing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Sheikh is now serving several life sentences in Springfield Prison, Missouri. The Sheikh’s alleged crimes were not even for conspiracy, but for simply having the desire. His lawyer, a former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, has since his client's internment been denied access to his client, and recently wrote to the current attorney general Janet Reno claiming that there was an attempt by the prison authorities to kill the Sheikh. This comes in the wake of repeated abuse and humiliation by guards, who strip searched and internally examined the Sheikh before and after each visit he received. The Sheikh is 59 years old, is blind and suffers from diabetes and a number of other complaints, some of which are life threatening. He has consistently been refused a translator (he does not speak English), and since March 1997 has been kept in solitary confinement in dark and filthy conditions. Clark states in his letter, 'It would be difficult to devise a crueller plan to kill him.'

The Sheikh has always denied that he ever wanted or plotted to blow up sites in the US, but admits that as a Muslim and a believer in universal justice he would like to see the oppressive regime of Hosni Mubarak overturned. Whether the Clinton administration likes it or not, there isn't a single human rights organisation whatever their background who views Mubarak as anything other than the leader of a regime with one of the worst records of internal repression and abuse.

In the British au pair Louise Woodward's case, everyone in the UK waits for an official reaction from the British government, so far silent. This is not surprising, despite their interference in the Saudi nurses case. In a recent letter to a Labour MP writing on behalf of a concerned constituent, Derek Fatchett Minster at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office states, "As for Sheikh Omer Abderrahmane, I am afraid we have neither cause nor standing to intervene in this case. The Sheikh was tried and imprisoned in accordance with US law for a crime committed in the US." In May, Sheikh Omer Abderrahmane filed a law suit charging federal officials with violating his human rights. His wife, still in Cairo complains that he is only allowed one five minute phone call to them every month. In a country which boasts a constitution granting freedom of thought and expression, Sheikh Omer languishes in a literal dungeon, the true reflection of American 'justice'.

Please write to Sheikh Omer Abderrahmane, giving him your messages of support at MCFP-PO Box 4000, Springfield, MO, 65801-4000, USA. Please also write to the governor of the prison asking him to stop the harassmenet of Sheikh Omer Abderrahmane. The Sheikh has been abused, and mistreated by prison guards, and denied his basic rights of worship.


Since the end of March 1997, the Sheikh has been held incommunicado. He has been prohibited visits from the media, friends, or even from clergy or spiritual counsellors. He has been deprived of a translator. The Sheikh does not speak English, and cannot communicate with his jailors. He is in solitary confinement, and has in the past been subjected to humiliating internal examinations without reason. He is not even allowed to join his fellow Muslims in prayer on Fridays. No report has been submitted to his solicitor regarding his health (the Sheikh is blind and diabetic) for over a year. Please write to President Bill Clinton asking for the immediate release of Sheikh Omer Abderrahmane, and the restoration of his basic rights. (See below for background)


WHO IS SHEIKH OMER ABDERRAHMANE? Sheikh Omer Abderrahmane, is an aged, blind cleric imprisoned in the USA for 'sedition'. He was accused of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing in 1994. However, no evidence was produced to support this. Instead the Sheikh has been imprisoned using a law which was last used in America during the civil war! 'Sedition' means to conspire, or to have discussions against a government. By that description, anyone opposing New Labour in Britain, or the Republicans in Congress or Bill Clinton as President of the USA, is guilty of sedition. The Sheikh is well-known for his support of the Islamic movement, and the IHRC as well as many other organisations see the jailing of the Sheikh for life, as imprionment for the sake of belief. Please help us campaign for his immediate release, as well as an immediate improvement in the standards in which he is being kept.