Democracy Now! February 21, 2003

Program Title:
Democracy Now! February 21, 2003
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Whenever you have war and oppression overseas, rest assured you re going to have repression and injustice at home outspoken Palestinian Professor Sami al-Arian; he was indicted yesterday by Ashcroft on charges of material support to terrorists and led away in handcuffs; Today is the 38th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X: we hear his famous speech, The Ballot or the Bullet; Iraq Journal: gun sales are booming as Iraqis prepare for war

9:00-9:01 Billboards 9:01-9:10 And we go to Jeremy Scahill in Baghdad for the latest Iraq Journal. Tape: Iraq Journal, with Jeremy Scahill and Jacquie Soohen in Baghdad 9:10-9:25: The Justice Department yesterday indicted a leading Palestinian professor in Florida and seven other Muslim men for alleged connections to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization. The professor Sami Al-Arian was a leading member of the Muslim community in Florida. He made national headlines shortly after Sept. 11 when his school, the University of South Florida, put him on paid leave because of suspected ties to terrorists. Yesterday Attorney General John Ashcroft charged that he is the North American leader of Islamic Jihad and a chief financier of the group. Islamic Jihad is designated by the State Department as an international terrorist organization. As FBI agents lead al-Arian away in handcuffs, he told reports, It s all about politics. Al-Arian s attorney, Nicholas Matassini, said Al-Arian was a political prisoner and described the Justice Department s indictment as a work of fiction. The indictment claims Al-Arian and the other men provided material support to an organization that conspired to kill and maim people abroad. Each man could face life in prison if convicted. We talked yesterday with Georgetown law professor David Cole about the case. Cole formerly represented Al-Arian s brother-in-law Mazen Al-Najjar who was once jailed in the U.S. for three and a half years on secret evidence. I also talked recently with Sami Al-Arian himself, when he spoke at the Not in Our Name rally in Central Park last October. Tape: David Cole, Georgetown University Law professor and author of "Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security." He represented Sami Al-Arian s brother-in-law. Tape: Sami Al-Arian, South Florida professor and Palestinian activist who was one of eight men indicted Thursday on terrorism charges by the Justice Department 9:25-9:26 One-Minute Music Break 9:26-9:45: Today is the 38th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X. Malcolm X was one of the greatest leaders this country saw in the last century. On February 21, 1965, he was shot to death as he spoke before a packed audience in Harlem's Audubon Ballroom. He was just 39 years old. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louise Norton Little, raised the family's eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. The white supremacist organization Black Legion threatened Malcolm s father with death many times, forcing the family to relocate twice when Malcolm was a toddler. When he was four years old, Malcolm and his family watched white men burn their home to the ground. Two years later, his father s mutilated body was found lying across the town's trolley tracks. Malcolm s mother had an emotional breakdown several years later and was committed to a mental institution. Her children were split up amongst foster homes and orphanages. Despite this, Malcolm excelled in school and graduated from junior high at the top of his class. He lost interest in school when his favorite teacher told him his idea of becoming a lawyer was QUOTE "no realistic goal for a nigger." He dropped out, and eventually wound up in Harlem, New York, where he became a drug dealer, a pimp and a thief. At the age of twenty, he was caught and sentenced to several years in prison for robbery. In prison, Malcolm renewed his studies and found the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. By the time he got out of prison, Malcolm had converted to Islam and changed his name. He considered "Little" a slave name and chose the surname "X" to symbolize his lost African name. Malcolm was appointed a minister and national spokesman for the Nation of Islam. He established new mosques in Detroit, Michigan Harlem, and other cities. He was largely credited with increasing the Nation of Islam s membership from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963. As Malcolm X s fame began to supersede Elijah Muhammad s, tensions grew within the Nation of Islam. FBI agents infiltrated the organization. Shortly after learning Elijah Muhammad was betraying his own teachings and having affairs with several women, Malcolm X split with the Nation of Islam. He founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Malcolm X was shot to death on February 21, 1965 by Black Muslims. Many believe the FBI helped to foment the tensions between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. Salim Muwakkil is senior editor of the Chicago-based magazine In These Times and a columnist with the Chicago Tribune. In a recent article he wrote: [Nearly four decades after Malcolm X was gunned down,] his fame continues to spread. Malcolm X helped give birth to the cultural nationalist movement with his rhetorical embrace of African culture. He also nurtured revolutionary nationalists (like the Black Panther Party) by focusing on anti-colonial struggles in the Third World. He gave sustenance to many African-American radicals who embraced his socialist prescriptions even as he provided spiritual fuel for the growth of many Islamic organizations in the black community. With his emphasis on alternative scholarship, Malcolm is also cited as a progenitor of the "Black Studies" academic movement. We turn now to a speech Malcolm X gave in Detroit just a year before he was gunned down. It is known as The Ballot or the Bullet. Tape: Malcolm X, speaking in Detroit in 1964 9:45 9:58 Malcolm X cont d 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits For a copy of today s program, call 1 (800) 881 2359.

Date Recorded on: 
February 21, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
February 21, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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