Six protestors arrested at Friedman hearing and the two Muslims in the group are the only two facing criminal charges 

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April 05, 2017
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AMP staffers reject plea deal and ask for trial due to apparent discriminatory treatment

AMP staffers Taher Herzallah and Kareem El-Hosseiny rejected a plea deal and have asked for a trial stemming from their Feb.16 arrest at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel. The two have been charged with unlawful conduct/disrupting Congress. They first appeared in DC Superior Court on March 28. Their trial is set for April 20.

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During the Friedman hearing, both men stood with Palestinian flags and interrupted Friedman as he tried to speak. They demanded the committee reject the nomination. “Palestinians will always be here,” Herzallah shouted as he was led away by Capitol Police. The protest was captured by the media and went viral. 

Four others protestors -- who are white and Jewish -- from the organizations Code Pink and If Not Now also were arrested. One If Not Now member blew a shofar, the ram’s horn instrument used in Jewish religious ceremonies. Others sang as Capitol Police led them out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Herzallah and El-Hosseiny -- the only two Arabs and Muslims in the group -- are also the only two facing criminal charges filed against them by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Three of the protesters were allowed to pay a small fine the same day. One had his case transferred to traffic court. 

“All of us were detained at the same time for doing the same thing,” Herzallah said. “So why were we charged with misdemeanors and the others were not? We feel discriminated against, disappointed in the system and that’s why we rejected the government’s plea deal. We want the judge to decide the case.”

“AMP stands firmly behind our employees who, we feel, may be being treated more harshly by the prosecutor because of their heritage and religion,” said AMP National Policy Director Dr. Osama Abuirshaid. “They rejected the plea deal because we cannot be silent when our judicial system shows bias. It’s totally against our American values.”

The case, which actually may become a jury trial, is set for April 20. The men are represented by Ann Wilcox of the National Lawyers Guild. They face a maximum penalty of $500 and up to six months in jail.