- Attorney and Islamic activist
- Former executive director of the American Muslim Council
- Opposes U.S. government’s investigation of Muslim groups with possible terrorist ties
Former American Muslim Council (AMC) executive director Eric Erfan Vickers is both a practicing law attorney, serving to protect the civil rights of his clients, and an ardent Islamic activist, who has gone as far as speculating that the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003 may have been an act of divine intervention against Americans, since it took place – with what he deems great symbolic importance – over Palestine, Texas.
A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Vickers has worked as an attorney specializing in civil rights and business law. In the mid 1980s he began working for the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., which gives legal representation to minority business owners. In 1999 Vickers organized a protest that intentionally shut down a major Interstate in St. Louis, Missouri during the morning rush hour – all to protest the alleged dearth of highway-construction contracts going to minority-owned firms in that state. Vickers and co-demonstrator Al Sharpton were arrested for their disruption. “I have learned to use public protest for the benefit of the weak and downtrodden,” says Vickers, who has staged two unsuccessful bids to win a Congressional seat as a representative of Missouri.
In 2003, Vickers wrote a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, imploring him to “shine some world light on these ‘un-American’ practices by the U.S. government” – a reference to the government’s investigation of Muslim groups with possible terrorist ties. “I am writing to request that the United Nations begin an immediate inquiry into the political repression of Muslim[s] and Arab[s] . . . by the United States government,” Vickers penned. At the time Vickers sent this letter to Annan, he was the Executive Director for the American Muslim Council, whose founder, Abdurahman Alamoudi, was arrested in Washington, D.C. for having illegally traveled to Libya, and for having illegally received $340,000 in cash from Libya’s “World Islamic Call Society.” He was accused of intending to distribute these funds to radical anti-Western terrorist organizations in Syria and elsewhere.
In January 2002, Eric Vickers publicly defended University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, who had been accused of involvement with the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Vickers denounced what he called the character assassination that the media were aiming at the suspect. “What has happened to professor Arian,” he said, “is happening to Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent all over this country. They are being discriminated against.”
On June 27, 2002, Vickers told MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews that al-Qaeda is “involved in a resistance movement.” On September 26 of that year, in a letter to editor of the Buffalo News, Vickers wrote, “We [Americans] have no more right or business putting Wahhabism on trial for the September 11 attack . . . than we do putting Christianity on trial for the Oklahoma City bombing.” On January 29, 2003 – as the U.S. prepared for its invasion of Iraq – Vickers condemned President Bush’s expression of faith that a Higher Power would guide U.S. forces to victory. “In invoking God to be with American soldiers in our apparently imminent war with Iraq,” said Vickers, “what the president did not say is that he is calling on God to kill innocent Iraqi children.” Also in January 2003, Vickers sent a memorandum to the imams of American mosques, which stated: “AMC calls upon you to demonstrate mass criticism and activism against the new FBI policy, which directs FBI field offices nationwide to conduct an inventory of mosques and Muslims as part of their charge to develop demographic profiles of their regions to combat possible terrorism.”
In 1985 Vickers incorporated the Columbia, Missouri branch of the Islamic African Relief Agency (later named the Islamic American Relief Agency), on behalf of some Sudanese college students who sought to establish a chapter of the worldwide group.