(CLEVELAND, OH, 5/13/16) – The Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today offered its sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of attorney and human rights leader Michael Ratner upon his passing. He died on Wednesday May 10, at the age of 72 from complications due to cancer.
Ratner was the cofounder and long-time leader of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He was a courageous human rights hero and brilliant attorney who devoted himself to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable people against the abuses of some of the most powerful individuals and regimes on earth. He successfully challenged the Bush Administration's attempt to remove the Guantanamo Bay detainees from the protections of habeas corpus.
On March 26, 2005, Michael Ratner was the keynote speaker at the 3rd Annual Civil Rights Banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Cleveland Chapter. He spoke that evening on topics such as Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, unlawful detention, secret evidence, outsourcing torture, extraordinary rendition and the Patriot Act. Ratner was a true friend to the Muslim community in their struggle against abusive and demeaning post-911 policies.
Michael Ratner skillfully combined creative legal activism with political activism. Describing Ratner's pioneering model of social activism and lawyering, friend and colleague, Attorney Jules Lobel of the University of Pittsburgh, said of Ratner on Democracy Now, “He was a role model and inspiration for many lawyers and activists around the world….He never backed down from a fight against oppression, against injustice no matter how difficult the odds, no matter how hopeless the case seemed to be, no matter how much there was a lack of precedent. He took cases that nobody else would take for clients that nobody else would represent….He stood alone in many cases…but he was willing to do that because he was unflinching in the face of oppression and unfearful.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.