Hijab case 04-12-09 Lawyers claim woman humiliated into confessing to crime

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Lawyers for woman accused of killing baby cries foul

By Ray Hanania — Attorneys for Nour Hadid, who is accused of the murder of her two-year-old niece in Orland Park last week, charged that over-eager emergency techs and a history of anti-Arab police practices in the Southwest Chicago suburb are behind a strategy to use humiliation to force her to “confess.” Nour Hadid was charged in the alleged beating death of her two-year-old niece, Bhia Hadid. According to reports, Nour Hadid confessed to killing the baby, who reportedly suffered a beating that left 55 bruises. But Joel Brodsky and Reem Odeh, who now represent Nour Hadid (www.brodskyodeh.com), said their client was forced into a confession “using humiliation tactics that we saw at Abu-Ghraib.”


Nour Hadid, who is Muslim, was stripped down, according to reports, during her arrest and interrogation and forced to remove her clothing including her head covering, or her “Hijab.” The mug-shot or police booking photograph of Nour Hadid was released to the news media by the Orland Park Police – a standard procedure for police departments.


Brodsky and Odeh said the removal of the Hijab and other forms of pressure “were used to humiliate her” into providing an “alleged confession” to the child’s murder.


“I don’t know how many members of the Orland Park Police Department have served in Iraq or are a part of the military either the guard or full time,” Brodsky said Sunday during a telephone interview. “But this whole thing smacks of what happened at Abu Ghraib.”


Brodsky referred to Abu-Ghraib repeatedly during the interview. Abu-Ghraib was one of several prison sites used by the U.S. Military during the Iraq War to torture and interrogate prisons, many of whom were innocent of allegations they supported the terrorist group al-Qaeda.


Abu-Ghraib was forced to close under President Bush as evidence of the extensive torture become public knowledge. His successor, President Barack Obama, has also ordered the closure of Guantanamo and other secret CIA prison centers where torture of prisoners was also alleged.


Brodsky and Odeh pointed a finger at the Orland Park Police Department saying the department has a history of anti-Arab policies that date back more than a decade. In fact, Odeh has had run-ins with the Orland Park Police over Arab and Muslim clients who have alleged abuse at the hands of the department. In one incident, a police officer retaliated against Odeh by filing a complaint with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) which was later proved unfounded and cleared.


“It was clearly an act of punishing her,” Brodsky said.


Anti-Arab incidents date back to the 1990s when Arab American parents were brought in by members of the District 230 school board and told that incidents where their children were abused, harassed or discriminated resulted from allegations that Arab students at the District’s three high schools, Sandburg, Andrew and Stagg, were engaged in gang and drug activities.


Over the past two decades, Arab and Muslim students have been targeted for harassment by school board officials and teachers, including at nearby Stagg High school where a large percentage of students expelled from the school were Arab or Muslim. Arab and Muslim students make up about 10 to 15 percent of the district’s student body, yet often reflected higher percentage of disciplinary measures.


Since, other incidents including cases where Arab students and Irish students have fought, resulted in the Arab students being charged while the other students were treated as victims and never charged.


However, community leaders have expressed confidence in Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy and Orland Park Village Officials who have actively reached out to Arab and Muslim Americans in cases where Arab suspects have been involved.


“McCarthy has shown a high sensitivity to the concerns of Arab Americans and Muslims,” one community leader said.


But both Brodsky and Odeh noted that despite that, what motivates individual police officers to do may have nothing to do with McCarthy.


“There is no way that Nour Hadid is guilty in this death. Clearly, humiliation was used to pressure her just as it was used at Abu-Ghraib. And, in the case of the pathology report, it was probably based on the observations of individuals in the emergency room at the hospital and they are not trained to conduct autopsies or to conclude whether incidents are or are not murder,” Brodsky said.


Brodsky and Odeh said the conclusion was rushed and may also have been the result of this atmosphere of humiliation to force Arab and Muslim suspects to confess to crimes they did not commit.


Odeh is also Arab and Muslim. She will be the guest on “Radio Chicagoland” Monday morning at 8:20 am to discuss the significance of a Hijab and Muslim culture. The show is broadcast on WJJG 1530 AM Radio and is available live on the internet at www.RadioChicagoland.com.


(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and Chicago morning radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com and by email at rayhanania@comcast.net.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com