Supporters gather to support Al Adi after detainment

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Crowd of nearly 70 people stands behind hookah cafe owner

By Graig Graziosi


Fidaa Musleh watched as a video of her and her husband, Amer “Al” Adi Othman, was projected onto a wall in the dining area of Circle Hookah in downtown Youngstown.

The video, a news segment from a local broadcast station, showed Musleh and her husband working together behind the counter of their business, Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli, smiling and interacting with customers.

When she turned to face the crowd of nearly 70 who had gathered in the hookah cafe to hear her speak Tuesday evening, Adi was not by her side. He is in a Geauga County jail awaiting deportation, and she is in a state of disbelief.

Tuesday was Al Adi’s first scheduled appointment with immigration officials since his deportation was temporarily delayed two weeks ago. Mus- leh, Adi and their lawyer, David Leopold, hoped the meeting would be the first step toward convincing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials that Adi’s legal status deserved examination in the courts. Instead, he was detained.

“They took the three of us into a room, and they took my husband into custody with no explanation,” she said. “When I asked them why, all they told me was that it was a decision from Washington, D.C.”

As Musleh spoke, supporters sitting along the perimeter of the room hoisted signs in the air bearing messages for Adi.

One was decorated with a peace sign next to the phrase “Justice for Amer.” Another, in plain black and white, said: “America didn’t invent human rights, human rights invented America.”

Musleh said that Adi was undertaking a hunger strike until his release. She said she offered a ticket to Jordan for Adi, so he wouldn’t have to sit in prison. They rejected her offer.

“It was very cruel. They wanted to humiliate him,” she said.

She wasn’t allowed to touch him when they said goodbye; their parting words were spoken over a phone with a glass panel between them.

When the news broke of Adi’s detainment Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, and Mahoning County Republican Party vice chairwoman Tracey Winbush – who had accompanied Adi and Musleh to Cleveland – were outraged by the actions of the ICE agents.

State senator and gubernatorial candidate Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, criticized ICE’s methods and the country’s immigration laws.

“This is another example of our nation’s broken immigration system – a system that everyone agrees needs reform but remains a victim of partisan politics in Washington. It’s time that members of Congress and President Trump focus on passing comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform that treats our fellow human beings with dignity and respect,” Schiavoni said in a statement.

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