Constitutional Rights Group Calls Prosecution of Noor Salman Outrageous, Dangerous Overreach of Power
DALLAS – Jan 30, 2017 – Representatives from Muslim Legal Fund of America, a nonprofit constitutional rights organization, are calling the recent arrest and prosecution of Noor Salman, the battered wife of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter, a dangerous overreach of prosecutorial powers.
According to media reports, the charge of “aiding and abetting” appears to be a result of Salman being in the family car when her husband drove to Orlando and being with her husband when he, a security guard and licensed gun owner, purchased ammunition at Walmart.
However, according to the New York Times, Salman said she was “unaware of everything” related to her husband’s plans to attack the nightclub. Salman said that her husband told her they were going to Orlando to visit a friend and that it was not unusual for her husband to purchase ammunition at Walmart. In fact, Salman purchase a Father’s Day card for her husband the day of the attack in anticipation of seeing him that evening.
According to another New York Times article, Salman’s husband texted her a message asking her if she saw what happened, to which she responded that she hadn’t.
Later that morning, she learned from the F.B.I. that her husband had died in a shootout after carrying out a mass murder. Months later, recalling that day, she began to cry.
“How can someone be capable of that?” she said.
According to media reports, Salman’s husband physically and emotionally abused her repeatedly. He beat her while she was pregnant and threatened her with worse abuse if she didn’t keep quiet about the abuse. He pulled her hair, “choked her and threatened to kill her.” He also called her degrading names in public when he was unhappy with her. Salman told reporters that she was afraid to leave her husband because he threatened to take custody of their son and reminded her that she was financially dependent on him.
Media reports of the Orlando nightclub shooter’s abuse of Salman are backed up by his first wife’s accounts of similar abuse. His first wife told reporters that he was emotionally unstable and repeatedly beat her. She also felt unable to leave the marriage until her family “rescued” her.
Khalil Meek, executive director of Muslim Legal Fund of America, agrees that being a victim of domestic abuse does not automatically establish her innocence, but said it makes the F.B.I.’s “astonishing” attempt to interpret “material support” as essentially being married to a criminal seems cruel and unusually vindictive.
“If the F.B.I. can charge a wife for the crimes of her husband, then what’s to stop them from charging anyone who happens to be related to, friends with, or co-workers of someone who commits a horrible crime?” asked Meek. “This feels like Trump’s proposed ‘take out their families’ policy being applied on American soil, against American citizens. That’s a terrifying prospect for America.”
Attorney Nancy Hollander, who specializes in national security cases, told WhoWhatWhy that the FBI’s prosecution of Salman appears “to be a terrible expansion” of the material support statue, which makes it a crime to provide support for terrorism. She also said that it is “un-American to punish this woman for the sins of her husband.”
Meek said that his organization supports the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America‘s decision to represent Noor Salman. He said it is essential that Americans ensure that Muslims have access to high-caliber legal representation as a means to protect constitutional rights for all Americans.
“If a Muslim can’t get a fair trial in America, then no one is safe from injustice,” Meek said. “And there is no freedom or liberty without justice.”
Muslim Legal Fund of America is a national nonprofit charity that funds projects to protect and defend constitutional rights in America. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many other civil liberties. Learn more at https://www.mlfa.org/safe.