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Monday, December 11, 2006

CAIR-OH Responds to Minnesota Imam Story

Asma Mobin-Uddin, the president of CAIR-Ohio's Columbus chapter, wrote a letter to the editor about the imam fiasco. The Columbus Dispatch ran the editorial Sunday. She included some interesting things in her editorial that need to be challenged for the inaccuracies. Let's start at the beginning:
Six imams, who had passed through the airport security checks and boarded a US Airways flight in Minneapolis, were regarded as suspicious by a passenger, who alerted a flight attendant.
Actually, based on the reactions of all of the passengers, I'd say that the majority of passengers were suspicious of the imams. Here's what one of the passengers said in a letter to US Airways:
Most importantly, the public needs to be told that there was a series of "many suspicious events", which were observed by the crew and several passengers. The captain made his decision based on all of these events and not just one note.
Pauline's letter contradicts Mobin-Uddin's account. Based on the fact that Pauline was actually on the plane, I'm liable to trust her more than someone reciting the story she'd been told. At best, Mobin-Uddin's account is pure hearsay in a court of law. Here's the next thing that Mobin-Uddin stated in her letter to the editor:
The men were handcuffed, removed from the plane, detained and questioned for several hours.
Here's what Officer Wingate reported in the police report:
"Officer Desubijana and I asked the six passengers pointed out to us to get up and leave the aircraft. Systematically, from the rear to the front of the plane, we asked all six to leave the plane. All parties left the plane cooperatively. It should be noted that two of the individuals were seated in the rear; two were seated in the middle; and two were seated in the front of the aircraft; all of which stated they were travelling together. All of their carry-on bags were brought off the aircraft as well."
I find it a little peculiar that the police report said that the imams "left the plane cooperatively" while the letter to the editor said that the imams were "handcuffed" and "removed from the plane..." Let's remember that Imam Shahin said:
"This was humiliating, the worst moment of my life."
The first obvious question is "If the imams "left the plane cooperatively", why would they need to be handcuffed?
The second obvious question is why should Imam Shahin say that "This was humiliating, the worst moment of my life" if they weren't taken off in handcuffs?
The third obvious question that must be asked is "Should we believe the account of someone who wasn't there or should we believe the official police report"?

Here's another paragraph from the letter to the editor:
Many of the rumors and inaccurate information surrounding the alleged suspicious behavior of the men have been proved to be false. For example, contrary to what some media reports stated, all had roundtrip tickets and luggage.
Here's what the police report states:
"When I arrived, I met U.s. Airways manager Robbie Taylor Davis, who told me the following: "He stated the passengers were of Middle Eastern descent and three of which only had one way tickets and no checked luggage. He stated that most of the six passengers had requested seatbelt extensions."
Remember that Taylor-Davis made those statements part of the official police report. Remember that Taylor-Davis is doing so with the same penalties as if he made the statements in court under oath. What's the likelihood of a US Airways management official making such a statement if it weren't true? Finally, Mobin-Uddin writes this:
The incident boils down to overreaction by a passenger and the airline to Muslim men on the aircraft and their observance of routine prayers prior to boarding.
Actually, based on "Pauline's" letter to US Airways and on the police report, we know that the imams' removal had little to do with an "overreaction by a passenger" or on their prayer routine. We know that a main reason for their removal was because several of the imams had one-way tickets, that several didn't check in luggage and that they moved into seats to which they weren't assigned. We also know that the way they were seated was similar to the way the 9/11 hijackers sat that fateful morning. Based on that information, it's difficult to say that US Airways' decision was an "overreaction."

UPDATE: The Wshington Times' Audrey Hudson is all over the latest news about the Flying Imam Fiasco', reporting that the imams want an out-of-court settlement with US Airways.
A group of Muslim imams is seeking an out-of-court settlement with US Airways, saying they should not have been removed from a Minnesota-to-Phoenix flight last month and were not behaving suspiciously. Five of the six Islamic religious leaders have retained the Council on American-Islamic Relations for legal representation and are seeking a "mutually agreeable" resolution, said Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director. US Airways scheduled a meeting with the imams on Dec. 4 to discuss the incident, but the men canceled it and hired the activist group to act as legal counsel.
"With the hopes of reaching an amicable resolution to this matter, we would like to take this opportunity to ask for a formal meeting with US Airways executives and legal counsel," said Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR's national legal director, in a letter to the airline.
The imams represented by CAIR include Omar Shahin, Didmar Faja, Ahmad Shqeirat, Marwan Sadeddin and Mohamed Ibrahim. Mahmoud Sulaiman of New Mexico is the only imam not included as a plaintiff. Mr. Sulaiman is the passenger who asked another passenger to switch seats with him to accommodate a blind imam and was one of three imams who asked for a seat-belt extension even though the police report cites his weight at 170 pounds.
I hope US Airways fights this one. I further hope that US Airways asks lots of questions during the deposition phase of that trial. The first question I'd ask is whether they have witnesses that will corroborate their version of events who aren't part of their travelling group. I'd ask because the group and their supporters have said that the reports coming out in the news are "smears and distortions" of what happened. Another question I'd ask is why some of the imams asked for extenders. That seems extremely strange and it'd be interesting to hear how they'd explain that.

Cross-posted at LetFreedomRingBlog


Blogger American Crusader said...

The entire event was a sham designed to create an impression of bigotry and intolerance by US Airways, the police and the passengers. This was designed to create the inevitable reaction any American would feel after 911.

2:11 PM  

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