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Muslim group defends passengers

Posted by Richard on March 25, 2007

Remember the imams who were removed from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis? They did virtually everything they could to make themselves appear suspicious and frightening, in what I and many others believe was a deliberate attempt to create an incident. Several passengers reported their behavior (members of the air crew had already identified the imams as highly suspicious).

The imams are suing not only US Airways, but also the "John Doe" passengers who reported the suspicious behavior, which is what air travelers are asked to do. 

Rep. Steve Pearce has introduced a bill in Congress to protect airline passengers from lawsuits for reporting suspicious behavior. A religious liberties group that's litigated on behalf of Muslims in the past has condemned the CAIR-backed lawsuit:

"This is a first for us," Kevin Hasson, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, wrote in a letter to Nihad Awad, president of CAIR. "We have never opposed someone else's claim for religious discrimination.

"But this tactic of threatening suit against ordinary citizens is so far beyond the tradition of civil rights litigation in the United States that we must oppose it to defend the good name of religious liberty itself," Mr. Hasson said.

A Minneapolis attorney offered to represent the passengers pro bono. But here's the really terrific news — a Muslim organization came to the defense of the passengers:

Meanwhile, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, based in Phoenix, said it will raise money for passengers' defense should they be named and targeted.

Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix doctor who is spokesman for the Arizona group, said the imams and their supporters at the Council for Islamic-American Relations in Washington, "are trying to exploit this situation for political ends."Who are the real victims here?" he said of the US Airways incident. "Airports are the front line in the war on terror, and it's outrageous that citizens acting in a neighborhood-watch fashion are targeted."

Bravo, Dr. Jasser! AIFD looks like a fine organization with admirable founding principles. Here's their mission statement (emphasis added):

We proud citizens of the United States of America join together as devoted and patriotic citizens and as devout Muslims in this forum in order to serve as a vehicle for the discussion and public awareness of the complete compatibility of America's founding principles with the very personal faith of Islam which we practice. 

AIFD supports the "separation of religion and state," "equality of the sexes," and the existence of Israel.

I've made a small contribution to AIFD. If, like me, you want the voices of moderate Islam to grow louder and stronger, why not do the same?


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