The Burghers of Harlem

adama.jpg

One of the two young girls picked up by the government (on suspicion of terrorism) re-appeared in her Harlem neighborhood in May. Sixteen year old Guinean immigrant Adama Bah was released by the Feds without explanation (and she’s under court order not to talk about it). Her friend Tashnuba Hayder was deported back to Bangladesh. Her classmates missed her and let her know recently via an impressive art exhibit they prepared to tell her story. The New York Times reported a few days ago (tip from Priya):

When Adama Bah’s schoolmates decided to make a public artwork project about her case last spring, she and another 16-year-old girl were being held by the federal government after it had identified them, without explanation, as potential suicide bombers.

“We didn’t know if we would ever see her again,” said Kimberly Lane, who was then an art teacher at the school, the Heritage School in East Harlem, where many viewed Adama’s detention as unjust and incomprehensible. “This was a way for the students to use art to speak out at a time when a lot of people, including adults, were afraid to do anything.”

The result towers over anything that most people would expect high school students to produce. At Columbia University’s Teachers College, where the work is on display through Thursday, the director of art education, Prof. Judith M. Burton, says it reminds her of Rodin’s “Burghers of Calais.”

Life after being thrown in jail without explanation isn’t easy on a poor immigrant family as you can imagine:

“I asked the students why are they doing that,” Adama recalled. “They said they just wanted to let my story be heard and help me out.”

These days, Adama acknowledges that her family is in difficult financial straits. The telephone has been shut off and her mother stays late at her trinket stand in Brooklyn, trying to earn enough to buy groceries for Adama and four younger children. But Adama was bubbling over about her summer job, reading to children at Bellevue Hospital Center.

10 thoughts on “The Burghers of Harlem

  1. A sad story no doubt. And an interesting contrast between how the students at her school rallied around her and this story:

    Thursday, July 28, 2005 “Moroccans Beat Up van Gogh’s Son, 14″ Theo Since the murder of Theo van Gogh, last November, his now 14-year-old son Lieuwe has twice been physically attacked by young Moroccans, or (more likely) Dutch citizens of Moroccan descent. Van Gogh’s parents said this in an interview on national television. They insisted their grandson had done nothing to provoke the assaults. In one incident, recalled Anneke van Gogh, Theo’s mother, “[Lieuwe] was walking the dog in the Watergraafsmeer area of Amsterdam, and they came up to him and said, ‘Is your name van Gogh?’ Lieuwe said no, of course, but they beat him anyway.” She also recounted how, some time after Theo van Gogh’s assassination, a group of Moroccans appeared in the street where he had lived, inquiring about Lieuwe’s whereabouts. It was the neighbors’ impression that the visitors weren’t there to offer condolences, and the police were called — but according to the filmmaker’s mother, no one bothered to show up. That would have been in keeping with local officers’ alleged non-action after the two beatings Lieuwe received. The cops were called then, too, Anneke van Gogh told the TV interviewer, but they declined to make an appearance. Recently, Lieuwe was transferred to another class, in another building of his school, after he’d been repeatedly bullied by Muslim pupils. His grandmother said that Lieuwe had had to endure taunts like “Good thing they killed your dad.” The news of the attacks on the 14-year-old came just a day after Theo’s killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, was sentenced to life without parole. Through the verdict, Lieuwe held his head high. His response afterwards was that he would send Bouyeri a postcard with the words “Theo Forever.”

    Moroccans Beat Up van Gogh’s Son, 14

    I suppose this story didn’t meet the NY Times criteria for being news worthy somehow…

  2. I suppose this story didn’t meet the NY Times criteria for being news worthy somehow…

    Yes, something got in the way. Oh, what’s that word… ‘facts:)

    A police investigation has found that although Theo van Gogh’s son said he was threatened and assaulted in Amsterdam, the incidents did not take place, police said on Thursday.
  3. <

    blockquote>A police investigation has found that although Theo van Gogh’s son said he was threatened and assaulted in Amsterdam, the incidents did not take place, police said on Thursday.

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    blockquote>

    The police did not deny the school incident however.

  4. There has been no evidence released that she was planning on being a suicide bomber. It’s a good thing that she was released.

    But her family did dip into the well of jihadi scum that is CAIR and ICNA to help with their defense.

    Kind of like a white man falsely accused of a hate crime on a black man going to the KKK and the Aryan Nations for help with his legal defense fund.

  5. But her family did dip into the well of jihadi scum that is CAIR and ICNA to help with their defense. Kind of like a white man falsely accused of a hate crime on a black man going to the KKK and the Aryan Nations for help with his legal defense fund.

    You should change your name to jackass.

  6. Tashnuba, the bangladeshi woman, is in financial need back in Bangladesh and there’s going to be a fundraiser for her and Adama on the 5th of August. Even if you can’t make it because you’re not in New York or you have other things to do, you can donate online.

    Here’s the link to Detainment for more info, background and how to donate.

  7. Tashnuba had the potential for getting a really good lawyer, Stanley Cohen, for free. But on the advice of ICNA, her family turned him down, presumbably because he’s Jewish even though he has a history of representing terrorists (American, jihadi, all kinds).