Vigil marking 10th anniversary of Rafil Dhafirâ??s arrest held in downtown Syracuse

Vigil marking 10th anniversary of Dr. Rafil Dhafirâ??s arrest

A vigil was held Tuesday afternoon in downtown Syracuse to remember the 10th anniversary of Dr. Rafil Dhafirâ??s arrest.

Dhafir, an oncologist in Manlius, was convicted in 2005 on 59 federal counts including tax evasion and money laundering related to an unlicensed charity he set up to help needy children in Iraq. He was also convicted of violating US sanctions imposed on Iraq for funneling money to Iraq through the charity. Dhafir was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Federal investigators initially claimed Dhafir was leading a group that was funneling money to Iraq to support terrorists but he was not convicted of charges related to terrorism.

Tuesdayâ??s vigil was held in front of the
Federal Building in Syracuse where Katherine Hughes, of the Dr. Dhafir Support Committee, was scheduled to speak briefly about the case. A silent reflection followed.

Supporters of Dhafir claim the government spied on local Muslims and intimidated them during the investigation into Dhafir. They believe Dhafir was wrongly convicted for helping hungry Iraqi children.

An evening celebrating the life and work of Dhafir is planned for Tuesday night, from 6-8:00 p.m. at The Islamic Society of Central New York on Comstock Avenue.

Stephen Downs, a former
chief attorney with the NY State Commission on Judicial Conduct, is scheduled to speak about Dhafirâ??s case in a wider context, addressing "what is happening to Muslims nationally in the U.S. governmentâ??s war on terror. In particular, Downs will speak to the fate of Muslim charity in the post-9/11 U.S," according to a media release.