Officials ordered nine Muslim passengers, including three young children, off an AirTran flight headed to Orlando from Reagan National Airport yesterday afternoon after two other passengers overheard what they thought was a suspicious remark.
The suspicious remark?
"My brother and his wife were discussing some aspect of airport security," Irfan said. "The only thing my brother said was, 'Wow, the jets are right next to my window.' I think they were remarking about safety."
How cooler heads (not covered) prevailed:
"At the end of the day, people got on and made comments they shouldn't have made on the airplane, and other people heard them," Hutcheson said. "Other people heard them, misconstrued them. It just so happened these people were of Muslim faith and appearance. It escalated, it got out of hand and everyone took precautions."
The consequence of Speaking While Muslim:
As a result of that report, federal officials made the decision to order all 104 passengers from the plane and re-screen them and their luggage before allowing the flight to take off for Orlando -- two hours late and without the nine passengers.
See how safe you are? Awesome!
The type of people who are all for profiling of Muslims on planes
On the August 16 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly argued extensively for "profiling of Muslims" at airports, arguing that detaining all "Muslims between the ages of 16 and 45" for questioning "isn't racial profiling," but "criminal profiling."
Hardly an isolated incident
As a Muslim-American and president of the North American Imams Federation, Dr. Omar Shahin is no stranger to the heightened security of a post-9/11 world. On more than one occasion, the Phoenix, Ariz., resident says he’s been picked out of a crowd by the color of his skin—interrogated, finger printed or detained. So when Shahin headed to the airport Monday with five other imams for a flight out of Minneapolis—where the NAIF had met for a conference—the group did everything they could to avoid suspicion, according to Shahin. They wore Western clothes, he says. The men spoke only English. They didn’t book their seats together. And when it came time to conduct their sunset-time prayers, Shahin says, they did so quietly, and not all together—hoping to avoid any unwanted attention.
But when the group boarded their U.S. Airways flight bound for Phoenix, on which Shahin (a frequent flier on the airline) had been upgraded to first class, they would never leave the ground. After finding their seats and preparing for takeoff, Shahin and the other imams were escorted from the flight in handcuffs after a passenger handed a note to a flight attendant expressing concern over the group's "suspicious activity," according to the airport police report. The group was taken off the flight in handcuffs, and after several hours of questioning by federal authorities, released. But though the airline refunded their tickets, U.S. Airways—which released a statement Tuesday saying it does "not tolerate discrimination of any kind"—reportedly denied them passage on any of its other flights and refused to help them obtain tickets through another airline. "This was the worst moment in my life," says Shahin, who, after an overnight delay, was able to get himself and his colleagues a flight on Northwest Airlines. "When they took us off the plane, six big leaders, it was very humiliating." U.S. Airways told NEWSWEEK late Wednesday that it would not comment on the case beyond its issued statement.
What was the group’s suspicious activity? According to the report filed by the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport police, the group’s loud chants of "Allah, Allah, Allah," initially drew the suspicion of nearby passengers—one of whom said he heard the imams make anti-American comments regarding the war in Iraq. Once on the flight, the men—who allegedly boarded the plane with no carry-on luggage and used one-way tickets—seated themselves in pairs, two at the front of the plane, two in the middle, and two in the rear (all according to the police report). The men, three of whom are U.S. citizens, two of whom have green cards and one who has a worker's permit, also allegedly asked the flight crew for seat belt extensions.
But Shahin, a lawyer, disputes many of these details. He says everyone in the group had round-trip tickets that he had booked—and that he has the documentation to prove it. The reason he was at the front of the flight was because he was upgraded to first class because he’s a frequent flyer on the airline. And the reason he asked for a seatbelt extension? Shahin says his 290-pound frame should make that obvious. As for the anti-American remarks, Shahin says the group was talking about the conference, which, ironically, was focused on building bridges to the non-Muslim community. And to avoid this very type of incident, Shahin says he’d already notified both the F.B.I. and local Minneapolis police department of the NAIF conference, as a precaution, in hopes of avoiding any problems. "What they claim [in the police report] is just not true," he says.
Oh, just in case you thought this did not have official Bush administration sanction
WASHINGTON — In the six and a half years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, federal law-enforcement agencies have secretly established profiling techniques to screen immigrants based on their nationalities, protocols that critics charge encourage the unjustified targeting of Muslims.
...with little or no oversight or public scrutiny, law enforcement officials have assumed flexible and expansive discretion to make screening decisions based on where an immigrant was born.
The group of agencies — which included ICE, the National Security Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — not only recommended one list but also suggested an interagency definition of a "special interest alien."
It's a good read, check it out.
The Foxies Are on this already
A family of muslims was escorted off an Air-Tran flight, questioned and cleared by the FBI, but still denied boarding and flying on that flight after discussing the safest place to seat on the airplane.
I have no sympathy for them. There are many other passengers on that flight that wanted to feel safe also.
Yes, not all muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are muslims. They brought this view of themselves on .. they need to fix it.
Okay, in the interest of giving the righties their chance... Fox News reports one of the passengers said the word 'bomb'. There is a film clip, too.
I will leave it to readers to gauge the credibility of this claim.
This is the same network that said there were WMDs in Iraq, as well.