I came across an article in the Seattle Times today describing the situation a local man, and Saudi citizen, Majid al-Massari finds himself within.
Apparently his father is a well-known supporter of al-Qaida who describes his organization based in London as the “ideological voice” of al-Qaida.
Dr. Muhammad al-Massari is a theoretical physicist by education and profession. His son Majid received degrees in both Physics and Astronomy in Saudi Arabia, then travelled here to the University of Washington to pursue an advanced degree in Physics.
According to Majid’s co-workers and friends, he was very bubbly and loveable. His degree work and subsequent interest in computer viruses, which he gave talks on, indicate he is also a very detailed thinker and most likely very good at disseminating observations into the sensible.
However, he built websites for his father’s organization which supports al-Qaida and gave regular talks on their radio show.
At first, he supported the Bush administration’s “war”, but later did not, and spoke out against it. This alone is not surprising – it is the stance that many, many Americans with no love of terrorism have taken.
Majid never advocated violence.
He was arrested and jailed by our immigration service several months ago because of a two year old misdemeanor drug possession charge. The FBI Joint Task Force on Terrorism seized his home and computers.
He is currently still detained and undergoing the process of deportation to Saudi Arabia because of these old misdemeanor drug possession charges. However, federal prosecutors have filed thousands of pages of documentation and exhibits about Majid’s father instead – and his father’s link to these terrorists.
Majid doesn’t want to be sent back to Saudi Arabia. His father has spoken out loudly for the overthrow of Saudi royals. Even assassination. Majid is afraid he will be tortured by the Saudis because of this. Many “experts” believe his fears are not unfounded and feel the Saudis will use Majid to try getting to his father.
How does Majid’s father feel about this grim prospect for his son?
His father said he won’t be deterred, even though he thinks the Saudi government will treat his son badly.
And what if the Saudis threaten to kill his son?
“It would be God’s will,” he said. “I would tell the people that, and let the people judge.”
A man of science? A man of God?
It is easy to look at Majid’s situation and say, well, he spoke bad about America, and now he wants us to save him from his own people. Just send him back – he doesn’t deserve what we have to offer – he deserves what he gets from his own people. Maybe now he’ll appreciate what America has to offer a little better.
It is easy to become affixed to our viewpoints, and our understanding.
Majid’s has been blown apart.
His friends from work gathered together and moved his belongings into storage for him. This, after pooling money together for him to pay his rent.
I remember often during the last Presidential election Bush saying, in essence, that to question his decisions is to be unpatriotic.
One of the fundamental aspects of our country that makes us “free” is the lack of a singular personality that rules. We arrive at decisions collectively. Openly. Honestly.
However, this has not been true in America recently. Then again, we have been challenged with some very difficult situations – unprecedented situations. Yet strangely, we are not even able to query deeply into the origins of these situations, let alone the effects. Obstructions to truth have been erected in many places.
So really, should we be so quick to judge someone like Majid, when idealism and quantifiable reality collide?
Is it not better to be who we are than to just speak what we want others to believe?
Is it not better to act upon what we know to be true rather than accepting the excuses given to us in a lie?
It always come down to just ourselves, and the many, many people around us. It is so easy to become caught up in one thing or another that removes us far from ourselves, into a word of abstraction. It is so simple, becoming lost.