Who is Dr. Sami Al-Arian?
The son of Palestinian refugees, Dr. Sami Al-Arian was born on January 14, 1958, and came to the United States in 1975, where he has since lived with his wife of over 30 years, Nahla, and his five American-born children.
Dr. Al-Arian started teaching computer science at the University of South Florida in 1986 and received two awards for outstanding teaching during his tenure there. In 1990, he co-founded the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a research and academic institution dedicated to promoting dialogue between the Muslim and Western worlds.
Dr. Al-Arian is a frequent speaker and lecturer on college campuses, churches, and conferences and is dedicated to interfaith dialogue, community development, and civil rights. He served on the board of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (HOPE), the largest community group in Hillsborough Co., Florida. In 1981, he helped establish the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Muslim grassroots organization in country. He is the founder of the Islamic Academy of Florida, one of the nation's top full-time Islamic schools with over 300 students from preschool to high school. He also served as the imam of the Islamic Community of Tampa.
Dr. Al-Arian helped empower the Muslim community through his dedicated hard work and personal relationships with other civic, political, and religious leaders in Florida and around the country. He helped establish the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP), a group that raised awareness about the plight of Palestinians. He organized voter registration drives, supported candidates for public office, and lobbied numerous policymakers. Newsweek magazine named him the premier civil rights activist in America for his efforts to repeal the use of secret evidence. His activism single-handedly gathered support for H.R.2121, a Bill to Repeal the Use of Secret Evidence which had more than 130 co-sponsors and was voted favorably out of committee by the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Dr. Al-Arian attended briefings at the White House and Justice Department, advised several members of Congress, and met both Presidents Clinton and Bush.
Advocate of Freedom
Dr. Al-Arian has been a tireless voice for freedom and justice at home and around the world. In 1997, he cofounded the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace, a local coalition opposed to the unconstitutional use of secret evidence and other civil rights violations, as well as ongoing media attacks against Arabs and Muslims. He also co-founded the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, the nation's leading coalition challenging the use of secret evidence, and was elected as its first president in 2000. Dr. Al Arian is the recipient of three Civil Rights Awards from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the American Muslim Council (AMC), and American Muslim Alliance (AMA).
More on Dr. Al-Arian
We encourage those who are interested in learning more about Dr. Al-Arian to purchase the recently published biography Shackled Dreams, which details the life and work of Al-Arian and contains illuminating interviews, speeches and articles by the former professor.
Also, "No Land's Man," an article published in Tampa's Weekly Planet (January 24-31, 2002) is highly recommended to learn more about Dr. Sami-- his childhood, background and beliefs. Biography: No Land's Man, The Story of Sami Al-Arian