Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Flying Imams and Their Supporters

Remember the incident a few months back when a group of Muslim Imams were boarding a flight from Minneapolis and Phoenix and proceeded to draw so much attention to themselves that passengers on the flight alerted airline officials and police? Prior to the boarding, the Imams were observed and overheard not only praising Allah, but praising Saddam Hussein while making derogatory remarks about Bush. So far, OK, but once on board, the Imams drew more attention to themselves by constantly changing seats, exchanging furtive glances and asking for seat belt extenders (which they did not need.) Finally, many of the passengers had enough and complained to flight personnel. As a result, the Imams were taken off the plane by police for further investigation. Once the police were satisfied that there was no threat, they were allowed to board a later flight to Phoenix. Now, the Imams, supported by the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR), are bringing a lawsuit against the airline (US Air). In addition, they are subpoening the names of all those passengers who alerted the authorities. They may have some supporters in Congress, believe it or not.

First, of all, the whole episode smells to me like a set-up. By that, I mean that I suspect these individuals purposely orchestrated the event to get themselves thrown off the plane so that they could bring a lawsuit. Wasn't it unusual that once they finally arrived in Phoenix, they were met by many of their supporters and TV news crews as well?

Not content with their in-your-face behavior at Minneapolis Airport, the "Flying Imams" now are acting to further isolate the American Muslim community as a whole from the rest of the American people by bringing this lawsuit. Even more outrageous, the passengers, who in a post-9-11 world, did what any normal person on an airplane would do in those circumstances, are now faced with subpoenas, harassment and possibly being sued as well. What is the purpose of that? I'll tell you what the purpose is- to make the American public afraid to report suspicious behavior to the authorities.

To counter that very threat, in the wake of the Imam incident, Congress initiated steps to protect the public from legal repercussions from having reported suspicious behavior that could be a terrorist act in the making. Now, believe it or not, just this week, Democratic members of the House of Representatives, led by Nancy Pelosi, are working to remove that portion from Homeland Security legislation.

Remember, this is the same party that is trying to ensure our defeat in Iraq. OK, you say they are only against the war, like at least half of the American public. Yet, they are also against the wiretapping of suspected Al Quaida members calling numbers in the US. "Wiretapping innocent Americans" they call it. Well, who knows? I guess any of us are liable to get a wrong number call from Osama bin Laden. They also think that captured terrorists should enjoy all the rights of our Federal courts, defense attorneys, evidence suppression hearings and all that good stuff.

So why would some Democrats in Congress want to remove any protection from those who alert the police to suspected terrorist activity? Don't ask me. Maybe they are just looking out for their friends in the legal profession. Maybe we should write to them and ask.

As for CAIR and the "Flying Imams" themselves, they should think twice about what they are doing. They are only going to further alienate public opinion against Muslims. CAIR is already suspected by many to have terrorist sympathies. They are always trying to tell us that they are moderates and only want to increase understanding between US Muslims and the public at large in America. This lawsuit is not the way to do it. Even if their intentions are pure, and they only want to protect American Muslims from profiling, they have to recognize that Islamic-inspired terrorism is a fact of life in today's world. If they choose to engage in litigation, they are only sending a message that it is "us vs. them". Is that what they really want?

1 comment:

Reut Cohen said...

There is mounting evidence to suggest that CAIR has ties to terrorists and the organization's spokespersons often appear to sympathize with terrorist groups.

Daniel Pipes has a great article about CAIR. It's an old article (which makes it even better because it shows that none of these concerns are new).