Saturday, December 16, 2006
AIRPORT WASN'T GUILTY OF DISCRIMINATION
Published: Wednesday, November 29,
EDITORIAL & COMMENT 10A
Last Wednesday's Dispatch article "U.S.
investigating why 6 Muslim clerics were pulled from flight" struck a nerve. From
what I have read, the security personnel at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport
acted reasonably and responsibly under the circumstances. They should be
commended for taking appropriate actions in response to a "combination of
circumstances ... (that appeared) suspicious," particularly because they, I am
certain, carefully weighed the consequences of their actions if their suspicions
proved incorrect against the risk that there was a real threat.
As a frequent traveler to Israel, I note that if the Muslim imams were traveling from Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, reputably the safest in the world, they would have
immediately and without hesitation been singled out for special scrutiny,
because the security personnel there engage in profiling, a common-sense
practice that is unacceptable here.
I read with amazement the comments of Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who stated that he hoped the incident would "raise awareness ... that praying as a Muslim and flying as a Muslim should not trigger any fear and any prejudice." What sort of fools does he take us for?
To the Muslim leadership around the world, which is so adept at inflaming the Muslim masses, and whose tepid condemnations of acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam exacerbate the "fear and prejudice" they bemoan, I say the incident in Minneapolis is a good example of reaping what you sow.
RICHARD L. LEVINE
AIRLINE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST MUSLIM CLERICS
Published: Sunday, December 10, 2006
EDITORIAL & COMMENT
I respond to Richard Levine's Nov. 29 letter "Airport wasn't guilty of
discrimination." Six imams, who had passed through the airport security checks
and boarded a US Airways flight in Minneapolis, were regarded as suspicious by a
passenger, who alerted a flight attendant.
The men were handcuffed, removed from the plane, detained and questioned for several hours. Then, despite their being innocent and completely cleared by federal officials, US Airways and some other airlines refused to allow them to purchase tickets for other scheduled flights home.
Many of the rumors and inaccurate information surrounding the
alleged suspicious behavior of the men have been proved to be false. For
example, contrary to what some media reports stated, all had roundtrip tickets
and luggage. The incident boils down to overreaction by a passenger and the
airline to Muslim men on the aircraft and their observance of routine prayers
prior to boarding. In America today, those who encourage this type of religious
profiling stoke the flames of anger and fear. Then they call for people to act
on prejudice and institutionalize bigotry in the form of ethnic and religious
profiling. But sanctioning witch hunts and a Ku Klux Klan-like mentality will
not lift up this nation, nor will it make us safer.
We have worked very hard in this country to set standards of decency and personal conduct that respect each individual. Some of the memories of racial and ethnic profiling in our nation's history bring us shame and disbelief as we wonder why we allowed it. Others bring pain as the blight of racism has not been purged from us
collectively, and we know it.
But we try. Because when prejudice exists in the eye of the beholder, any innocent activity can seem sinister. This was illustrated clearly in these recent events. Three men prayed in a side area of the airport waiting room. Two large men asked for seatbelt extenders. A blind man moved his seat to be near an acquaintance. These brought out handcuffs, the FBI and wild rumors circulating in the media.
At an interfaith pray-in near the US Airways ticket counter at Washington National Airport, Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center of Philadelphia explained why he would not fly on US Airways until they apologized and recompensed the imams.
If we believe in the values America has stood for, we must stand together to be a just nation and recognize the humanity of each individual. We must give each person equal protection under the law, and we must stand against racial, ethnic and religious profiling and discrimination.
American-Islamic Relations, Ohio ChapterColumbus
Airport stunt orchestrated to garner sympathy
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I am writing about Asma Mobin-Uddin’s Sunday letter "Airline discriminated against Muslim clerics."
Her letter is filled with untruths and gratuitous references meant to convince readers that the six imams were mistreated. Mobin-Uddin stated twice that only "a passenger" was suspicious of their behavior. Not one, but many passengers were unnerved, according to witnesses and the police, by the six imams chanting loudly with shouts of "Allah" or "Allah Akbar" before they even boarded their flight.
Again, not just one, but many passengers inside the plane were suspicious
because of their statements mentioning terrorism and independently moving their
seat assignments to a configuration that reflected those of the 9/11 murderers,
i.e., two in the front row first-class, two in the middle of the plane on the
exit aisle and two in the rear of the cabin.
The six imams, according to police reports and witnesses, spoke English and Arabic, criticizing President Bush and the war in Iraq, and spoke of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden as they wandered the cabin, according to those on board who spoke Arabic. Three of the imams requested seatbelt extensions, which they placed on the floor next to their feet. The seat belt extensions can be used as weapons, according to air
Each incident by itself may be small, but taken as a whole this
appears to be an orchestrated effort to purposely trigger suspicion by airline
staff. Mobin-Uddin stated that the six imams were humiliated and taken off the
plane in handcuffs, which the police, the airline and witnesses say did not
happen. Mobin-Uddin used inflamatory phrases such as "witch hunts" and "Ku Klux
Klan-like mentality" and combined them with statements of "the values America
has stood for" and "the blight of racism has not yet been purged from us
collectively" to lead readers to believe that Americans hate Muslims in general
and Arabs specifically.
By manipulating America’s sense of fair play, the Council on American-Islamic Relations foists charges of Islamophobia on Americans to legitimize their fight against "discrimination." The airport stunt was orchestrated.
Mobin-Uddin’s letter is a furthering of this orchestration, using falsehoods to elicit a sympathetic response for Americans to "stand against racial, ethnic and religious profiling and discrimination."
CAIR, a group known to financially and spiritually support terrorist groups
that hate and murder for racial, ethnic and religious differences, now lectures
us, a country that supports all people.
Don’t buy it. It is a lie.
Decision to remove imams from plane was correct one
Saturday, December 16,
letters to the editor (Web only)
I respectfully address Asma Mobin-Uddin’s Sunday letter where she repeated some of the misinformation concerning the US Airways flight in Minneapolis in which six Muslim clerics were removed from a plane and detained for questioning by police and the FBI. They were later cleared.
Mobin-Uddin stated, for example, that the US Airways crew acted on the basis of a complaint from one customer. Let me reiterate that several customers raised concerns about behaviors, which also were observed by the flight crew.
Moreover, the decision to remove the passengers was not based on the fact that they were praying in a terminal, but rather several factors on board the aircraft, all outlined in the police report. The decision to remove the imams for questioning was made in concert with ground security, the US Airways operations center, local police and the FBI.
US Airways does not profile and takes safety and security of all passengers very seriously. We find it unfortunate that she likened our processes to the Ku Klux Klan and witch hunts. Any passengers, regardless of religion, race or creed, acting in the same way would have resulted in the same actions and procedures.
We aren’t perfect, however. The next day, a miscommunication occurred between headquarters and the field crew, which led to the imams not being rebooked the following morning. When we realized that they had been denied boarding that morning, our Minneapolis general manager went through the airport looking for them. By then, they had already booked on Northwest. We did meet them when they arrived in Phoenix.
We consider this primarily a customer-service and security issue
and reiterate that, although we are always concerned when passengers are
inconvenienced, our crew and ground employees made the appropriate call.
US Airways Corporate