As the bail hearing approaches for two University of South Florida students facing federal explosives charges, one man's family sees a conflict between court and faith.
The family of engineering student Youssef Megahed worries that friends and supporters will not be able to attend the hearing because of the date and time: Friday at 2 p.m. That's right in the middle of a mandatory Muslim prayer service at the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
"Many people wanted to be witnesses for Youssef," said his brother, Yahia Megahed. "They know his good fellowship, but because of the timing I think it will not be possible."
Megahed, 21, and Ahmed Mohamed, 26, have been in custody since Aug. 4, when they were arrested in Goose Creek, S.C., accused of having pipe bombs in their car.
Yahia Megahed said his father called the federal clerk's office to ask about getting the time changed but was told it was too difficult. No formal request has been made to change the hearing, according to court records.
The family's Charleston, S.C., attorney, Andy Savage, said he had not asked for a change because he expects a Tampa lawyer to take over the case. He said more time might be needed regardless of the prayer service conflict so the new attorney can become familiar with the case. . .
Ahmed Bedier, executive director for Tampa's chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, has been a visible presence from the start. However, he will choose prayer over court.
"My decision is I have to go to my prayer service," Bedier said. "It's conflicting with an important day."
That type of commitment is common on such a day, similar to the Jewish Shabbat or to a Christian Sunday service, according to Bedier and the Islamic Society of the Tampa Bay Area. (MORE)