More than 100 people crowded into Columbia's Rock Bridge Christian Church last night to celebrate and say goodbye to Columbia businessman Shakir Hamoodi. Next week, Hamoodi is expected to begin a three year federal prison sentence. He earlier pled guilty to sending about $200,000 to family, friends and charities in his native Iraq from 1991 to 2003. Many of the speakers at the event echoed a similar theme: A conflict between what is legal and what is just. Investigators found no evidence that Hamoodi was aiding the Iraqi government through the financial contributions.
Kit Salter is an emeritus professor and chair of the geography department at MU. He says he and his wife met Hamoodi right around the time he opened his store, World Harvest Market: “In many ways Shakir has the qualities that Norman Rockwell used to put in the general store manager owner. The man behind the counter who would known your name, and know your sister’s name, and say – did you still like that licorice that you got four weeks ago?"
Supporters of Hamoodi are circulating a petition asking President Obama to commute Hamoodi’s sentence. There are two copies of the petition in circulation – one in paper, and a separate one on the website www.change.org.
Owais Abdul Kafi is Hamoodi’s oldest son. He says between the two versions, more than 5,000 people have signed their names. Supporters of Hamoodi say they’ll turn in the petition 24 hours after Hamoodi goes to prison.