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Archive for March 13th, 2007

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The inevitable has come to pass, and most of us who have been following this epic in the making are none too surprised to witness the imminent and much expected lawsuit arise as a result of obviously justifiable actions taken by US Airways regarding purposely inflammatory and choreographed maneuvers perpetrated by six imams on flight 300 last November, 2006.

I have covered this fairly extensively here and here and here and finally, here.

Commensurate to their modus operandi, the suit has been filed by The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the perpetually enigmatic organization whose dubious past and equivocal ties to known terrorists finds them conducting damage control on a fairly regular basis. Unfortunately, the resident climate of political correctness and all-encompassing multiculturistic acceptance fogs the minds of most western citizens preventing any sincere investigative spotlight from shining too directly and thoroughly on CAIR’s operations and business practices.

The November 30th spectacle was an effectively practiced performance designed to provoke a response by CAIR in order to concoct an Islamic civil liberties lawsuit designed to gift even more freedoms to Muslims and Muslim communities within the U.S. Due to the aforementioned state of the politically correct quagmire in which we now reside in the United States, I think it very likely the imams and CAIR will come out with a victory in this particular case, despite the cadre of undeniable evidence (and a plane full of defense witnesses who were on flight 300) as to the imam’s play-acting shenanigans before boarding the plane and during their short time on the aircraft itself.

Even in the justice-is-supposedly-blind courtrooms of the United States, no one wants to be labeled a bigot, or god-forbid, an “Islamophobe.”

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Press Release Source: Council on American-Islamic Relations

Imams File Civil Rights Suit Against US Airways
Tuesday March 13, 12:45 pm ET

 

Muslim Leaders Says Removal From Flight was Based on Race, Religion

WASHINGTON, March 13 /PRNewswire-USNewsire/ — The Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) today announced that six imams, or Islamic religious leaders, removed from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis last November have filed a lawsuit against the airline and Minnesota’s Metropolitan Airports Commission alleging that their civil rights were violated.The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, claims US Airways’ alleged discriminatory actions were based on the imams’ “perceived race, religion, color, ethnicity, alienage, ancestry, and/or national origin.” It goes on to state: “Because of Defendants’ discriminatory acts, Plaintiffs were denied the right to make and enforce a contract, subjected to unlawful discrimination by a recipient of federal financial assistance, denied equal treatment in a place of public accommodation, and falsely arrested and detained by law enforcement officers.”

CAIR said the imams’ legal complaint, which cites federal statutes, the Minnesota Human Rights Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, also alleges: “Defendants, with the intent to cause harm to Plaintiffs’ reputation, maliciously, recklessly and without regard to their privacy and integrity, defamed and made false reports against Plaintiffs to justify their illegal action.”

In documents filed with the court by the Law Firm of Omar T. Mohammedi, the six imams refute many of the allegations repeated in the media about the incident.

For example, in response to claims the imams made political statements before boarding the plane, the complaint states: “At no time did Plaintiffs discuss politics or refer to Saddam Hussein or President Bush.”

According to the complaint: “This civil rights lawsuit is brought to ensure that the promise of equal treatment embodied in federal and state anti- discrimination laws does not become a meaningless guarantee for persons perceived to be Muslim and/or Arab and/or Middle Eastern.”

The imams are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and a legal injunction to prevent future unlawful discrimination by US Airways.

    To read the full complaint, go to:
http://www.cair.com/pdf/usairwayscomplaint.pdf

“The decades-long movement to advance civil rights in this nation must not be sent into retreat because of post-9/11 fear and stereotyping,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “When anyone’s rights are diminished, the rights of all Americans are threatened.”

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail: rahmed@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com

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Imams sue over removal from plane

The six Muslims were barred from a flight after passengers became alarmed.

Last update: March 12, 2007 – 11:59 PM

Six Muslim imams ordered off a US Airways flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last November have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the airline and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, claiming they were removed from the plane because of their race and religion.

In a 38-page document filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, the plaintiffs said they were “horrified and humiliated” after police removed them, under pilot’s orders, from the plane in front of dozens of other passengers Nov. 20 “as if they were criminals.”

Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for US Airways, based in Tempe, Ariz., said Monday that the company hadn’t seen the suit and couldn’t comment on it. Nevertheless, she defended the actions the airline took that day after several passengers and flight attendants became alarmed by the imams’ behavior.

“This was an unfortunate incident,” Rader said. “But we do not discriminate against our customers or anyone else. The actions we took and the police took and the FBI took, they took based on behaviors that were observed. And they believed that was in the best interests of the safety of that flight. And we absolutely back those judgments.”

Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the Airports Commission, also hadn’t seen the lawsuit, but said, “We believe airport police officers acted appropriately in responding to US Airways’ call for assistance.”

Airline officials have said the men were removed from the plane because of concerns about their loud praying, repeated use of the word “Allah,” seat switching, and several requests for seat belt extenders.

Over the next five hours the men were detained and questioned by federal law enforcement officials. The imams denied that they did or said anything that could be considered threatening, and were later released without charges.

Within days, however, the incident set off a nationwide uproar.

Bloggers and talk-radio hosts buzzed about the need to be vigilant against potential terrorists while civil-rights advocates and Muslim leaders saw the incident as racial profiling or discrimination.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also called for a congressional hearing about ethnic and religious profiling at airports.

Omar Shahin , one of the six plaintiffs named in the suit and president of the North American Imams Federation, declined to comment Monday. Other plaintiffs identified in the suit are Ahmed Shqeirat, Mohamed Ibrahim, Didmar Faja, Mahmoud Sulaiman and Marwan Sadeddin. All but Ibrahim, who lives in California, are Arizona residents.

Omar T. Mohammedi, an attorney from New York City representing the imams, could not be reached for comment.

Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for CAIR, said CAIR will discuss the suit at a news conference today in Washington, D.C.

Removed and handcuffed

In their suit, the imams seek unspecified compensatory damages from the airline and the MAC, claiming they incurred emotional and economic distress from the incident, which occurred after they boarded the plane the afternoon of Nov. 20.

The men were returning to Phoenix following a three-day North American Imams Federation conference in Bloomington.

The imams — prayer leaders — contend that the airline violated their civil rights by detaining them without probable cause, placing them under false arrest, and then refusing to sell them another ticket when they returned to the airport the next day.

They also contend that the airline failed to train its employees adequately to make them aware of religious practices, and unlawfully handcuffed them when no law enforcement agency requested such action.

The suit said they were told to face a wall and put their hands up so they could be searched and handcuffed. It also said the men were not told why they were removed from the plane.

When one of the imams asked a police officer what was happening, the officer said “I do not know. This is the airline’s call and not our call.”

The men allege that they were humiliated when police used dogs to help sniff out and search their belongings.

The imams were later taken to the Airport Police Precinct, where they allege they were questioned by federal agents — including members of the Secret Service — for five hours without food or drink.

They later flew back to Arizona on another airline without incident.

Passenger accounts differ

Pauline Klemmer, a passenger on the flight that day, said Monday that the imams’ account of what happened is “a total untruth.”

Klemmer said she believes the men deliberately acted out as part of a “repeated attempt” to weaken security and intimidate airline employees.

“They weren’t the victim,” Klemmer said. “If we had been afraid of them because of their race, or them loudly praying prior to them getting on the plane, we would not have gotten on the plane, and we did. They chose to make an obvious big scene.”

Rita Snelson, of Maplewood, who also was on the flight and sitting near several of the imams, agreed.

“I can’t explain it, but it was like they were definitely trying to raise suspicion,” she said. “The pilot did what he had to do, and we’re very honored by that. I told the airline afterward, ‘Thank you for watching over us.’ ”

 

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