Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Terrorists are mainly Muslims, or am I wrong?"

Over 17,000 incidents since 9/11 would say you are not wrong, Juror #14.  In the trial of accused Mumbai jihad attack conspirator Tahawwur Hussain Rana, the jurors are being picked now.  Some, like #14 have clear opinions about Islam and Muslims, the expressions of which got them kicked out of the jury pool.  My question is: if the statement by #14 is true, which it is, where are those who should be asking why is this true?  The lawyers, the judge, even jurors should be asking, and demanding answers.  An important learning opportunity has been wasted, a chance to widen the dialogue and educate the masses missed once again.

From May 17 by Mayank Chhaya

Rana jury selection faces bias against Muslims 

From a tooth and shoulder pain to displaying a clear bias in favour of the government, there was a diversity of reasons why some 20 potential jurors were excused May 17 by a federal judge here from participating in the trial of Mumbai terror plot suspect Tahawwur Hussain Rana.

Judge James Leinenweber spent the entire day questioning possible jurors, keeping the main thrust of his inquiry on establishing whether they had demonstrably negative views about Islam as a religion and Muslims as a community. While by and large the jurors said they had no particular antipathy towards either, some, such as juror number 14, said he did not respect Islam.

In his reply to a questionnaire that was distributed among the potential 100 jurors May 16, this particular juror reportedly wrote "Terrorists are mainly Muslims, or am I wrong?" He was promptly excused by the judge in the interest of a fair trial for Rana.

Jurors are identified only by their numbers in order to guard their privacy as well ensure personal safety. Juror number 15, apparently of South East Asian origin, was also excused because she said she could not be fair given her strong views about Islam.

Yet another possible juror, number 21, was excused because he had a "moral" problem passing judgment on others. The one who followed him said he had a persistent tooth and shoulder pain that would not let him concentrate on the issue at hand. He said he had no health insurance because he was out of a job. He too was excused.

Juror number 5, a young male, was excused because he said unambiguously that he would "absolutely" give the government an edge over the defendant while making his judgment.

Juror number 28, a woman, was excused because she cited her "fragile" state of mind given that her sister was allegedly killed by a police deputy. Juror 36 was excused because she said she did not trust the government about anything and maintained that the problem of terrorism was overstated.

A glorious cross-section of humanity a jury is.

Read it all

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