February 26, 2009 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

With a special appearance by the filmmaker, Ellie Bernstein

About the Documentary

On Thursday, February 26, in recognition of Muslim Solidarity Day, the CNY Bill of Rights Defense Campaign is sponsoring the riveting documentary, Waiting for Mercy, with a discussion afterwards.

“Waiting for Mercy: The case against Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain” deals with the question of whether the two Muslim men with no prior criminal history were set up to appear as criminals or if they were possible terrorists. In the summer of 2004, federal agents raided Assalam Mosque on Central Avenue in Albany and charged Yassin Muhiddin Aref, a Kurdish refugee from Iraq, and Mohammed Mosharref Hossain, an immigrant from Bangladesh, with participating in a plot to launder money made from selling a missile launcher. Aref, the 34-year old imam at the mosque, and Hossain, the 49-year old owner of an Albany pizza shop, were each eventually convicted of supporting terrorism and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The film was written, produced and directed by documentary filmmaker Ellie Bernstein and Tony Grocki.

About Muslim Solidarity Day

Six years ago, on February 26, 2003, the Muslim and Arab community in the Syracuse area was awakened to the reality that they were suspect in the eyes of the US government.

Between 6-10 am federal and local law enforcement agents aggressively interrogated 150 Muslim and Arab families as part of the investigation of the Help the Needy charity. to which many of the families had made donations in good faith. The agents were intimidating, intrusive and insensitive, acting as if every Muslim family was under suspicion. The agents asked inappropriate question about religious beliefs and practices, and attendance at religious worship services. The experience was frightening for members of the Muslim and Arab community.

We continue to mark this day to make a statement that selective, insensitive and discriminatory treatment is not acceptable in our community.

About The CNY Bill of Rights Defense Campaign

The CNY BORDC is a coalition of organizations that strives to:

— educate and mobilize the public and to promote legislation to counter the erosion of our civil liberties and

— create mechanisms for greater accountability and oversight of government actions pursued in the name of national security.

This event will take place at ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Avenue, Syracuse at 7 pm, with a suggested donation of $5-10 (sliding scale).  For more information contact Carol Baum at 472-5478 or or Barrie Gewanter, CNY Civil Liberties Union, 471-2821,