A federal bond hearing today for two University of South Florida students will start two hours later than initially set, so supporters of the men can attend a mandatory Muslim prayer service and the hearing if they wish.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Jenkins, who will preside over the hearing, agreed Thursday to push back the time from 2 to 4 p.m. Assistant federal public defender Dionja L. Dyer had filed a motion asking for the time change on behalf of one of the students, Youssef Megahed, 21.
Megahed's brother, Yahia, told the Times this week that many people wanted to testify for Megahed. But the hearing conflicted with a prayer service for the holy month of Ramadan, which will take place at mosques today from about 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Yahia Megahed did not return a call for comment.
Ahmed Bedier, executive director for Tampa's chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said he was still unsure whether he'd attend the hearing now that it had been changed. Others in the Muslim community had expressed their interest in going, he said.
"It shows that the judge's decision sends a message that the court respects religious accommodation and takes those matters serious," Bedier said. "I think that was the right move." (MORE)