A prominent US Muslim group claimed that Israel was illegally detaining an American doctor who had gone to help Palestinian victims of violence in the decimated Jenin refugee camp.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) said Monday Riad Abdelkarim, a physician from the Los Angeles area, was detained Sunday at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport while trying to return to the United States. According to Khalid Turaani of the Washington-based American Muslims for Jerusalem, Israeli authorities called his wife in California on Sunday and urged her to hire an attorney.
He was detained as he was returning to the United States "after witnessing the devastation caused by Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp, details of which he reported extensively on the Internet," MPAC said in a statement.
"In a shocking assault on International standards protecting medical relief workers, Israeli authorities have detained without charge several high-profile Americans," it added.
The U.S. State Department could not confirm the arrests, an official said. But a U.S. diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity to AP, confirmed the arrests and said consular officials in Israel were being given proper access.
According to a statement from Dr. Abdelkarim’s family, “Riad has been denied access to an attorney, and he has not been allowed to contact his family. At this time, our family is shaken and frightened by this incident. Riad's four children are traumatized and are asking for their father. Again, we demand Riad's immediate release and request that U.S. government officials take steps to protect Riad as an American citizen who was born and bred in Santa Monica and the South Bay area.”
MPAC, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ) denounced the alleged illegal detentions of US citizens by Israel and called on the US government to work to protect them.
Abdelkarim, who has written opinion pieces on Muslim issues for major U.S. newspapers, serves on the board of American Muslims for Jerusalem and chairman of a new charity, Kinder-USA, organized to provide aid to Palestinian children.
Abdelkarim also is the Western region communications director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Albawaba.com)
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