Respected Imam Muhammad Masood is facing 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines after being formally charged on July 24 with federal immigration fraud.
The highly-regarded Muslim leader was initially arrested during an ICE raid in November, along with his 24-year-old
Raids are part of national policy efforts at criminalizing the immigrant population. Hundreds of thousands have been arrested and deported in recent years. Technical immigration violations that would have been previously considered civil are now treated criminally.
The arrest was the culmination of threats and pressure applied by government lawyers to turn Masood against other local Islamic leaders. Hours of interrogations and threats of public humiliation and extensive jail time did not break him. Masood refused to cooperate.
The failure to rat resulted in federal charges.
Masood’s supporters packed the Boston courtroom on the 24th while others held a press conference right outside. Religious leaders, local supports, lawyers and activists came together in response to these racist attacks.
Leading the Islamic Center of New England and its base of 1,500 members, Masood was likely targeted for his contributions to the fight against racist oppression and its divisive social character. Through community initiatives that often bought together members of the Arab, Muslim and Sikh communities, racial and cultural barriers were broken and relationships built.
This is the government’s second attempt to convict Masood. The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 9; the trial is set for Oct. 11.