Formed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Solidarity USA is “dedicated to protecting the civil liberties and legal rights of all Americans … [and is] currently focusing on defending Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, and anyone who has been a victim of September 11th ‘governmental backlash.'” Of particular concern to the organization is the “misconduct of law enforcement” and “mistreatment of prisoners” by U.S. authorities. To help potential “victims” steer clear of civil liberties violations, Solidarity USA offers them advice on how to legally avoid giving information to police officers, FBI agents, or Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services agents who seek to question them for any reason. Solidarity USA also supports and defends all Muslim organizations under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee for funding terrorism.
In December 2003, Solidarity USA endorsed a statement by Not In Our Name (an anti-war movement with intimate ties to the Revolutionary Communist Party) that claimed: “[T]he government [of the United States] has accomplished its goal of forcing 82,000 men and boys from 24 Muslim, Arab and South Asian countries and North Korea to register, subjecting many to humiliation and, in some cases, detention and brutality. … From its inception this program has been a form of collective persecution carried out under the guise of protecting the public. [It] has caused intense fear and trauma in Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities across the country.”
In January 2004, Solidarity USA participated in an “International Day of Protest Against President Chirac’s Hijab Ban,” which consisted of demonstrations held at French Embassies and Consulates in the United States and Canada. At issue was France’s ban on Muslim headscarves, or hijabs, in its public schools. Solidarity USA was joined in this protest by the Council on American-Islamic Relations; International ANSWER; the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation; the Muslim Students’ Association of the U.S. and Canada; the North American Council of Muslim Women; Secret Evidence; the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force; Sisters in Solidarity to End Repression (SISTERS); and Spying and Search & Seizures.
In an effort to combat what it characterizes as Americans’ unfounded negative perceptions of Islam, the Solidarity USA website features a section called “What Is Islam?” — which explains the Muslim concept of jihad as follows: “Jihad does not mean ‘holy war.’ Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense, or fighting against tyranny or oppression.”
Among Solidarity USA’s current priorities is to protect what it terms the “rights” of the al Qaeda operatives incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay detention center — individuals who were captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq by American troops.
In April 2004, Solidarity USA participated in a protest disputing the American government’s “unjust, illegal, and immoral” policy of designating inmates at Guantanamo Bay as “enemy combatants” (as opposed to “prisoners of war”) who, according to Solidarity USA, “have no legal rights” as they wallow in a “legal black hole.” Joining Solidarity USA in this protest were such organizations as Amnesty International USA, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Blue Triangle Network, the First Amendment Foundation, the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission, the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation, the National Lawyers Guild, and Refuse & Resist!.
In addition to its joint efforts with the aforementioned organizations, Solidarity USA has also taken part in various campaigns and events with such groups as the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends Service Committee, the American Muslim Council, American Muslim Voice, the Arab American Institute, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Freedom Socialist Party, Human Rights Watch, La Resistencia, the Muslim Civil Rights Center, the National Black Police Association, Pax Christi USA, and United for Peace and Justice.
Solidarity USA is currently circulating a petition for the release from prison of American Muslim Council founder Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was arrested in September 2003 on terrorism-related charges. Another recipient of Solidarity USA advocacy is Yaser Esam Hamdi, a U.S. citizen who was captured by American soldiers while he fought side-by-side with al Qaeda and Taliban troops against the United States in Afghanistan in 2001.