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How do you pronounce 'Kaf-ka-esque'?
January 16, 2006 1:50 PM   Subscribe

"Yousry is not a practicing Muslim. He is not a fundamentalist," prosecutor Anthony Barkow acknowledged in his closing arguments to a jury in federal district court in Manhattan earlier this year. "Mohammed Yousry is not someone who supports or believes in the use of violence." So why is Yousry now awaiting sentencing in March, when he could face 20 years in prison for translating a letter from imprisoned Muslim cleric Omar Abdel Rahman to Rahman's lawyer in Egypt?
posted by dash_slot- (63 comments total)

 
This is just tragic.
posted by Slothrup at 1:56 PM on January 16, 2006


So why is Yousry now awaiting sentencing in March, when he could face 20 years in prison for translating a letter from imprisoned Muslim cleric Omar Abdel Rahman to Rahman's lawyer in Egypt?

It's 9/11, 24-7.
posted by Rothko at 2:00 PM on January 16, 2006


As an appellate brief for the defense, I found this quite moving. As an objective news story -- utter crap. Was there no one from the FBI or the US Attorney, or even remotely familiar with or sympathetic to the prosecution, who could have been interviewed?
posted by MattD at 2:00 PM on January 16, 2006


After reading stories such as Yousry's (and there's been a LOT of them recently) I am quite baffled by the insistence of some that no rights have been lost in the USA in the last 4 years.

Soon it will be a crime to defend accused "terrorists" in court. Once that label's been assigned, there is no presumption of anything but guilt anymore.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 2:04 PM on January 16, 2006


Hard to make a judgment without a full transcript of the trial.
posted by mischief at 2:05 PM on January 16, 2006


Because America is fucked.

I read this this morning (and decided not to post it here, because I didn't want to read PP trolling about it), and it just left me sick and disgusted.

The poor guy, at the direction of his employer (a lawyer who will also be going to prison, just for representing her client), translated a document. He translated a document.

And for that he'll be imprisoned for twenty years.

That's America in 2006. It's the same sort of thing for which we called the Soviet Union totalitarian.

So, the next time a friend who's in PETA of the Catholic Workers asks you to make a photocopy for them, just recall that might send you to prison in Bush's America.
posted by orthogonality at 2:05 PM on January 16, 2006


next time a friend who's in PETA of the Catholic Workers asks you to make a photocopy for them

. . . make sure you pay attention to what they're asking you to photocopy before you aid and abet them in criminal activity. Or something.

What happened to this guy seems, on the face of it, quite unjust. But aiding and abetting and conspiracy aren't exactly new crimes created by 9/11, are they?

I agree that we've lost rights post-9/11. But what right did this guy have before 9/11 that was subsequently eliminated and caused his current predicament? Maybe the right to an impartial jury, since it looks to me from the woefully incomplete article like the jury was really the problem.

When asked to translate something, the translator clearly knows what the text says before he translates it. The subject matter is readily apparent, right?

And has anyone here actually read Kafka? Sometimes I wonder.
posted by JekPorkins at 2:13 PM on January 16, 2006


Jek, what should be illegal to translate?
posted by orthogonality at 2:16 PM on January 16, 2006


. . . make sure you pay attention to what they're asking you to photocopy before you aid and abet them in criminal activity. Or something.

What happened to this guy seems, on the face of it, quite unjust. But aiding and abetting and conspiracy aren't exactly new crimes created by 9/11, are they?


"In June 2000, Stewart released to a reporter a version of the letter, which discussed a cease-fire between Islamic militants and the Egyptian government. Prosecutors said that the lawyer and the translator, by these acts, conspired to use Rahman's words to incite others to carry out kidnappings and killings. No attack took place."

Truly he has unleased a horror on the world; lock him up forever.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:17 PM on January 16, 2006


They're charging him because he translated letters for someone who was in prison at the time?

That is seriously fucked up.
posted by delmoi at 2:20 PM on January 16, 2006


. . . make sure you pay attention to what they're asking you to photocopy before you aid and abet them in criminal activity. Or something.

That's right. Or before you aid and abet whomever in exercising a politically unpopular view. Or any view. Or something.

It matters less and less anymore, if any American citizen can be locked up without such pleasantries as a fair trial. Almost, yes, Kafka-esque.

Or something.

And has anyone here actually read Kafka? Sometimes I wonder.

I've read Der Prozeß in the original German. Can I tell you you're wrong or do you want to continue being wrong? Or something?
posted by Rothko at 2:21 PM on January 16, 2006


As an appellate brief for the defense, I found this quite moving. As an objective news story -- utter crap. Was there no one from the FBI or the US Attorney, or even remotely familiar with or sympathetic to the prosecution, who could have been interviewed?

Similarly, I'm disappointed that no segregationists were interviewed for this story. Remember, there are two sides to every issue!
posted by delmoi at 2:22 PM on January 16, 2006


And has anyone here actually read Kafka? Sometimes I wonder.

Have you?
posted by delmoi at 2:23 PM on January 16, 2006


Why was his religion being discussed in court? If he had been a practicing Muslim, would that indicate guilt? Is his evangelical Christian wife an indicator of innocence?
posted by Jatayu das at 2:27 PM on January 16, 2006


"has anyone here actually read Kafka?"

Many times, in both the original german and translations.
posted by mischief at 2:35 PM on January 16, 2006


I think what has really been lost after 9/11 is the ability to find an unbiased jury to try a Muslim. Whatever crime a Muslim person is accused of, there exist numerous people ready to paint his/her actions as part an ongoing cultural war instigated by Muslims.

When the state of the US population's opinion of Muslims is so low, hate sites such as Little Green Footballs get awards from major national newspapers and congressmen like Sam Johnson of Texas are cheered when they suggest the best way to deal with Syria is by nuking the country, a lazy prosecutor has an easy time appealling to the contingent of people who hate muslims. This is done by presenting all Muslims accused of any criminal activity through a prism of reasoning that takes advantage of the anti-Muslim bias prevalent in the country. Bring up terror, show a few pictures of the twin towers.

Even this article, with statements such as "X is not a praticing Muslim" imply that this makes him somehow less guilty or more innocent.

Particularly indicitive of this growing hatred is that comments by our lawmakers effectively suggesting the same horrific actions as Iran's Ahmedinejad suggests for Israel are rarely if ever met with any sort of real condemnation.
posted by mulligan at 3:00 PM on January 16, 2006


Since PP hasn't made it here yet I will sum up his thoughts:

Thank God we are doing this kind of thing. It keeps us safe! God bless America! Down with liberals! etc etc bullshit bullshit!
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2006


If my boss "The Lawyer" thinks that it is legal for me to do something, I'm probably not going to retain my own lawyer to double check her. How many of us do things at our jobs that may be aiding criminal activities without our knowledge? Did they charge the airline agents who sold the tickets to Mohamed Atta with aiding terrorism?
posted by Megafly at 3:04 PM on January 16, 2006


I think what has really been lost after 9/11 is the ability to find an unbiased jury to try a Muslim. Whatever crime a Muslim person is accused of, there exist numerous people ready to paint his/her actions as part an ongoing cultural war instigated by Muslims.

I would not vote to convict any muslim brought before me if I was on a jury, so I suppose that's true.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2006


I mean on a terrorism related charge, anyway.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2006


When asked to translate something, the translator clearly knows what the text says before he translates it. The subject matter is readily apparent, right?

Yikes... you're defending this? Bad call, Jek...
posted by BobFrapples at 3:12 PM on January 16, 2006


I'm calling it--JekPorkins has jumped the shark.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:22 PM on January 16, 2006


I agree with JepPorkins and Mischief, and I would like to either hear what the other side has to say or at least know what happened at the trial before I started condeming this.

Now, I am not saying that this is the case, but this is possibly a biased article with quotes taken out of context. We see this kind of thing from the right all the time, what makes you think left leaning types have not learned the art.
posted by batou_ at 3:31 PM on January 16, 2006


"I have to plead guilty to being a coward," Juror 39, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said of her vote to convict. "It doesn't feel good, but I punked out."
posted by prak at 3:33 PM on January 16, 2006


batou_: The other side said what's quoted at the top:
"Yousry is not a practicing Muslim. He is not a fundamentalist," prosecutor Anthony Barkow acknowledged in his closing arguments to a jury in federal district court in Manhattan earlier this year. "Mohammed Yousry is not someone who supports or believes in the use of violence."
posted by dash_slot- at 3:37 PM on January 16, 2006


I'm not defending it at all, BobFrapples. I expressly stated that the result was unjust and that the jury was apparently unfair.

And yes, delmoi and others, I have read Kafka. Enough to recognize that, while apparently unjust and bad, this guy's situation is not exactly Kafka-esque.

and Rothko: Wrong about what? Wrong about wondering? What, exactly, do you think I'm wrong about?

While there are apparently some people here who have read Kafka, there appear to be fewer people who have actually read what I wrote, since I did not defend the government's actions here, I called what happened unjust, and I pointed out that conspiracy and aiding and abetting are actual crimes in the U.S. and have been since before 9/11.

Obviously, I question whether Yousry actually aided and abetted or was part of a conspiracy -- the jury was apparently totally wrong. But yes, translating something could, under the law, constitute conspiracy, depending on what was being translated and the state of mind of the translator. This is not new or even interesting, frankly.
posted by JekPorkins at 3:39 PM on January 16, 2006


dash_slot-: Is that all they had to say at the trial? If that is it, I would wholeheartedly agree that the verdict is unjust.
posted by batou_ at 3:42 PM on January 16, 2006


"The other side said what's quoted at the top:"

... and without context.
posted by mischief at 3:43 PM on January 16, 2006


The real injustice is that he was tried in the same trial as the "grandmotherly Maoist" Lynn Stewart and Ahmed Sattar, "a Rahman aide and sympathizer."
posted by footnote at 3:45 PM on January 16, 2006


JekPorkins writes "This is not new or even interesting, frankly."

"But yes, consorting with the devil is punishable by death. Witches get burnt every year. This is not new or even interesting, frankly."

"Trains travel to the East all the time. And maybe the Cohens decided to emigrate. This is not new or even interesting, frankly."

"People are punished for writing letters critical of Stalin all the time. So Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned too. This is not new or even interesting, frankly."
posted by orthogonality at 3:54 PM on January 16, 2006


Dammit, the greasemonkey script to remove certain posters' comments isn't working, and I can't find it on the userscripts.org page. Does someone have a link to a working version?
posted by hincandenza at 3:56 PM on January 16, 2006


hincandenza: When all else fails, just stick your head in the sand.
posted by mischief at 3:59 PM on January 16, 2006


"I have to plead guilty to being a coward," Juror 39, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said of her vote to convict. "It doesn't feel good, but I punked out."

Put Juror 39 in the Cube
posted by Smedleyman at 3:59 PM on January 16, 2006


Bite me, mischief. And drats, I just found a copy from the greasemonkey archive and it's not working- trying to killfile someone is just opening up a new window to a blank page.
posted by hincandenza at 4:00 PM on January 16, 2006


Seriously, how does Juror 39 live with herself? I wish harm on no one, but I picture her getting kidnapped, held prisoner, and raped for 20 years by a guy who says “Well, I just can’t help myself. Sucks.”
(’Cause you know being a pacifist translator in the joint has less than zero cred).

It’s not “12 Angry Men” all the time, but I couldn’t vote to send a man to prison for the rest of his live if I thought he was innocent. God, I would be ashamed if she were my daughter or even my sister.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:07 PM on January 16, 2006


and Rothko: Wrong about what? Wrong about wondering? What, exactly, do you think I'm wrong about?

About the meaning of Kafka's narratives, at the very least.
posted by Rothko at 4:10 PM on January 16, 2006


I have said nothing about the meaning of Kafka's narratives. I wondered if people here had read them. What did you think that I said about the meaning of Kafka's narratives that was wrong?
posted by JekPorkins at 4:18 PM on January 16, 2006


Lets face it: America sucks. I have this feeling that I will be taking my education and skills elsewhere.
posted by j-urb at 4:22 PM on January 16, 2006


What did you think that I said about the meaning of Kafka's narratives that was wrong?

Um, that receiving an unfair trial is somehow not Kafkaesque. Which implies you haven't read Der Prozeß or any of its translations.
posted by Rothko at 4:24 PM on January 16, 2006


Um, that receiving an unfair trial is somehow not Kafkaesque. Which implies you haven't read Der Prozeß or any of its translations.

See, the translation that I read can't really be distilled down to "receiving an unfair trial." Maybe the version you read was a few hundred pages shorter than the version I read.

See, in the version that I read, Joseph K. was never even told what crime he had been charged with. He endured a ton of outrageous process preceding trial, and was really nothing like what the article says Yousry went through, with the possible exception of the unjust result of the trial.

The fact that you think that something is Kafkaesque simply because you think a trial was unjust tells me that you may have just read the Cliff's Notes version.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:35 PM on January 16, 2006


This isn't Comparative Lit, kids. That said, Kafkaesque means "Kafka-like," not "exactly like a book what Kafka wrote."
posted by 235w103 at 4:41 PM on January 16, 2006


The fact that you think that something is Kafkaesque simply because you think a trial was unjust tells me that you may have just read the Cliff's Notes version.

I don't think you've read the book at all. The protagonist's name is "Josef K." Good luck.
posted by Rothko at 4:42 PM on January 16, 2006


But it should bear at least a passing resemblance to something that Kafka wrote, right? I mean, was the OJ Simpson trial "Kafkaesque?" It was a trial, after all. And it was far more procedurally messed-up than what we're reading about here. So, Kafkaesque?
posted by JekPorkins at 4:43 PM on January 16, 2006


No, because OJ received a fair trial and had full access to due process, despite your personal objection to the outcome, whereas Yousry's trial was not fair and he did not have access to the usual protections. Hence OJ's trial would not be what is understood as "Kafkaesque". "Or something."
posted by Rothko at 4:46 PM on January 16, 2006


First: OJ received a fair trial? That's pretty funny.
Second: Which of the usual protections did Yousry not have access to?
posted by JekPorkins at 4:50 PM on January 16, 2006


Second: Which of the usual protections did Yousry not have access to?

Objections raised to prosecutors' unproven allegations of Yousry's connections to Middle Eastern terrorist groups were ignored. Or something.
posted by Rothko at 4:52 PM on January 16, 2006


Objections raised to prosecutors' unproven allegations of Yousry's connections to Middle Eastern terrorist groups were ignored.

Generally speaking, you can't object to an allegation. The prosecution can make all the allegations they want, and then they get to present evidence in an attempt to prove to the jury that the allegations are true. The defense may object to evidence, but generally not to the allegations themselves.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:00 PM on January 16, 2006


Was this guy's defense court-appointed?
posted by mischief at 5:11 PM on January 16, 2006


“And has anyone here actually read Kafka? Sometimes I wonder.”

I agonize over what people on Metafilter have read. Valley of the Dolls? I The Jury? I mean do they GET it, man? Sheeeeiiiit...

The Cube is pretty Kafkaesque - but do any of the bastards on Metafilter get it? Fucking shitheaded bastards! Oh I’m so angry! Grrrrrr!

It's like sleeping with your sister. Sure she's a great piece of tail with a blouse full of goodies, but it's just illegal. Then you get into that whole inbred thing. Kids with no teeth who do nothing but play the banjo... eat apple sauce through a straw... pork farm animals.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:45 PM on January 16, 2006


This just pisses me off. What the hell was the judge doing the entire trial, wanking off to a picture of Bush? Judges are supposed to overrule a jury when they do something stupid like this (eeek it's a dark skinned man...he must hate America).

Another proud moment in the war on terror. FU*@ing IDIOTS.
posted by UseyurBrain at 6:23 PM on January 16, 2006


If you think Kafka's The Trial was actually about a trial, then you failed to understand it.

Regarding the actual topic: this is where an intelligent executive would step in, re-examine the case and, if necessary, grant a pardon. It's a pity we lack an intelligent executive.
posted by SPrintF at 6:45 PM on January 16, 2006


SPrintF:

The admin would probably score serious brownie points by granting a pardon here. I doubt the right would see it as being soft on terrorism, since a sympathetic case can be so easily made, and many others would see it as acting coolly and responsibly amidst the turbulence, leadership and all that.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:42 PM on January 16, 2006


Of course there's this.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:03 PM on January 16, 2006


This appears pretty f*cked up, but he hasn't been sentenced yet, either. I'm not sure what leeway a judge has, but there is still some hope for Yousry.
posted by forforf at 8:18 PM on January 16, 2006


Iran: CNN banned over translation error
posted by Smedleyman at 8:27 PM on January 16, 2006


First they came for the translators... then they came for the artists...
posted by homunculus at 8:42 PM on January 16, 2006


First they came for the translators... then they came for the artists...

At first, I thought they handed me the wrong dossier. I couldn't believe they wanted this man dead.
Third generation social activist, top of his class. Buffalo, Mass MoCA. About a thousand decorations. Etc, etc...

I'd heard his voice on the tape and it really put a hook in me. But I couldn't connect up that voice with this man. Like they said he had an impressive career. Maybe too impressive... I mean perfect.
He was being groomed for one of the top slots of the corporation. Exhibitionist, Docent, anything...

In 2004 he returned from a tour of Performance Art in Pittsburgh and things started to slip. The report to Hallwells Contemporary Art Gallery and Ed Cardoni was restricted. Seems they dug what he had to tell them.

During the next few months he made three requests for transfer to the critical art ensemble in NY, New York. And he was finally accepted.

Installation Sculpture ? He was 47 years old. Why the fuck would he do that ? 2006 he joined the Sculptor forces, returns to Western New York.

*Doors music "The End"*
posted by Smedleyman at 9:07 PM on January 16, 2006


My god, it must be truly disheartening to be a media-aware/news-aware American these days.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 PM on January 16, 2006


God, I stopped paying attention to the Steve Kurtz case; I thought it was so ridiculous, and of course the authorities would figure that out. That was a year and a half ago. I was so wrong.

Rothko: In case somebody hasn't told you yet, your posts in this thread are genius, and I am grateful for them. Or something.
posted by judlew at 12:21 AM on January 17, 2006


It's a horrible cliche, but cliches are only cliches because they're true. America (from the picture painted by news/books/magazines/the internet/etc...) appears to be turning into the true totalitarian state. Take the FISA decision for example. John Ashworth asks for a motion to be passed. FISA refuses. He then claims it has "exceeded its authority" in refusing him. Would it have exceeded its authority in doing what he said?

In America, I would undoubtedly be classed a terrorist. And I'm not speaking figuratively. As a member of the ALF, despite various dictionary definitions of terrorism, I'd be cracking rocks before I got through Immigration.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 12:21 AM on January 17, 2006


Smedleyman, you win for bringing in both Charlie and Martin Sheen, through quotations, in to the conversation.

Hey, I may not have read Kafka, but I've seen both of the Hot Shots movies and Apocalypse Now...

On topic:
I think mulligan hit the nail on the head with this:
I think what has really been lost after 9/11 is the ability to find an unbiased jury to try a Muslim.

Juror 39's actions prove this.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:30 AM on January 17, 2006


Iran: CNN banned over translation error

Ban lifted.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 6:04 AM on January 17, 2006


The defense may object to evidence, but generally not to the allegations themselves.

Of course they can. The jury's role is to determine findings of fact. If an allegation is unsupported by any evidence then it's inadmissable and most judges will instruct the jury to disregard it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:36 AM on January 18, 2006


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