The American Muslim Community Is Pushing Its Luck
Like many of President Bush’s supporters, I have agreed with and continue to accept the idea that most Muslims are peaceful and do not support violent jihad. I know that a very high proportion of America’s Muslims are professional people – lawyers, teachers and doctors, and that if the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world were terrorists, things would be an order of magnitude worse than they are. In this blog, I have many times referred to this in my support of the President’s attempts to keep the war on terrorists from morphing into a religious war.
Why is it then, that every time a Muslim spokesman appears on television to explain the position of America’s Muslims, my perception changes slightly for the worse? Sometimes I watch O’Reilly, and sometimes I watch Glen Beck – two programs that often have Muslim spokesmen on to point out the many times Muslim organizations have decried the use of terror. Why is it that their statements ring so hollow? Why is it that they usually appear to be spinning, distorting and obfuscating? Could it be that so many Muslim organizations in the U.S., especially C.A.I.R., have leaders and associates who have some sort of ties to terrorists? Could it be because some of these leaders have led funding drives to raise funds for foreign terrorist organizations? Could it be because some of these leaders have called for the imposition of Sharia law on the citizens of this country?
I understand why peaceful Muslims who live in areas of the world that are more-directly exposed to terrorists might be afraid to speak out and to act to rid their communities of these mass murderers, but those living in the United States cannot claim this rationale. You have to rid yourselves of those denying the role of Muslims in 9/11. You have to rid yourselves of those teaching jihad to Muslim-American children. You have to rid yourselves of imams who try to pull off the atrocious acts at the US Airway’s counter discussed again below. If you do not, the American people are going to conclude that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it’s a duck.
Muslims, others protest US Airways' removal of imams from flight called offensive
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 2, 2006 12:00 AM
A group of about 100 Muslims gathered at Tempe Beach Park on Friday, in front of US Airways headquarters, to appeal for equal treatment and justice.
Led by Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, the group prayed and listened to speeches of support from Jewish and Christian representatives as well as two talks by Bray himself.
They were there to protest the removal last week of six imams, or Islamic spiritual leaders, five of whom live in the Valley, from a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix. The incident has drawn national attention and could result in a lawsuit against the airline.
"Deliberate injustice is more fatal to the one who imposes it than on the one on whom it is imposed," Bray said. "We want to tell US Airways that second-class citizenship is not an option."
Only one of the affected imams attended the gathering.
Ahmad al-Shqeirat, spiritual leader of the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, addressed the group only in a final prayer.
He said in an interview that the imams are likely to file a discrimination lawsuit against US Airways next week.
ABOUT THOSE IMAMS
By RICHARD MINITER
New York Post
December 2, 2006 -- THE notorious case of U.S. Airways Flight 300 gets stranger by the minute, as more facts emerge about why six traveling Muslim clerics were asked to deplane.
A passenger on that flight - I'll call her "Pauline" - has inadvertently publicized some facts via a much-forwarded e-mail; she gave me more details in an interview this week. The airport police report confirms some of her claims and holds more revelations of its own. And U.S. Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader also confirmed much of Pauline's account.
One detail that's escaped most reports is that other Muslim passengers were left undisturbed and later joined in a round of applause for the U.S. Airways crew.
"It wasn't that they were Muslim," says Pauline. "It was all of the suspicious things they did." Sitting by Minneapolis-St. Paul's Airport Gate C9, she noticed one imam immediately. "He was pacing nervously, talking in Arabic," she said.
As the plane boarded, she said, no one refused to fly. The public prayers and an Arabic phone call triggered no alarms.
But then a note from a passenger about suspicious movements of the imams got the crew's attention.
To Pauline, everything seemed normal. Then the captain - in classic laconic pilot-style - announced there had been a "mix-up in our paperwork" and that the flight would be delayed.
In reality, the crew was waiting for the FBI and local police to arrive.
Contrary to press accounts that a single note from a passenger triggered the imams' removal, Captain John Howard Wood was weighing multiple factors.
* An Arabic speaker was seated near two of the imams in the plane's tail. That passenger pulled a flight attendant aside and, in a whisper, translated what the men were saying: invoking "bin Laden" and condemning America for "killing Saddam," according to police reports.
* An imam seated in first class asked for a seat-belt extender - the extra strap that obese people use because the standard belt is too short. According to both an on-duty and a deadheading flight attendant, he looked too thin to need one.
A seat-belt extender can easily be used as a weapon - just wrap one end around your fist, and swing the heavy metal buckle.
* All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket. Three had one-way tickets. Between the six men, only one had checked a bag.
And, Pauline said, they spread out - just like the 9/11 hijackers. Two sat in first class, two in the middle and two back in the economy section, police reports show. Some, according to Rader, took seats not assigned to them.
* Finally, a gate attendant told the captain she was suspicious of the imams, according to police reports.
So the captain made his decision to delay the flight based on many complaints, not one. He also consulted a federal air marshal, a U.S. Airways ground-security coordinator and the airline's security office in Phoenix. All thought the imams were acting suspiciously, Rader told me.
One more odd thing went unnoticed at the time: The men prayed both at the gate and on the plane. Yet observant Muslims pray only once at sundown, not twice.
"It was almost as if they were intentionally trying to get kicked off the flight," Pauline said.
While the imams were soon released, Pauline is fuming: "We are the victims of these people. They need to be more sensitive to us. They were totally insensitive to us and then accused us of being insensitive to them."
The flight was delayed for some 3 1/2 hours. Bomb-sniffing dogs swept the plane, and every passenger got re-screened.
"I think it was either a foiled attempt to take over the plane or it was a publicity stunt to accuse us of being insensitive," Pauline told me. "It had to be to intimidate U.S. Airways to ease up on security."
So far, U.S. Airways refuses to be intimidated, even though the feds have launched an investigation. "We are absolutely backing this crew," Rader said.
Tucked away in the police report is this little gem: One imam had complained to a passenger that some nations don't follow sharia law and had said his job in Bakersfield, Calif., was a cover for "representing Muslims here in the U.S."
What are the imams really up to? Something more than praying, it seems.
Richard Miniter is a best-selling author and a fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Labels: War on Islamic Terrorism