Muslim American Society threatens 'Sheikdown' of U.S. Airways "We are desirous of large financial compensation for the Imams"
December 27, 2006
US Muslims Want Anti-Profiling Law
Date Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2006
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
By Sahar Kassaimah, IOL Correspondent
WASHINGTON — Furious by the recent removal of six imams from a US Airways Minneapolis- to-Phoenix flight, American Muslims are demanding compensations for the imams and a new legislation against religious and racial profiling, hinting at a possible boycotting of the airlines.
"I'm sure at some point they will give a weak apology," Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation, told IslamOnline.net.
"But we at MAS Freedom Foundation want more than an apology. We want US Airways and any other airline displaying this type of behavior against Muslims to be hit where it hurts, the pocketbook," he said.
"Thus we are desirous of large financial compensation for the imams, civil and federal sanctions for their conduct, and new broad-sweeping legislation that will extract even larger financial and civil penalties for any airline that participates in racial and religious profiling," asserted the Muslim activist.
"Apologies are cheap and just words, we want action."
On November 20, six imams, including Omar Shahin, Professor of Islamic Law and the President of the North American Imams Federation, were traveling from Minnesota after attending a national imams conference.
They all had valid tickets for US Airways flight 300, cleared the security screening, and headed for their designated gate for departure.
Three of the imams performed prayer prior to departure. Subsequent to boarding the plane, the six were removed from the flight, handcuffed, and detained in the airport for questioning for over five hours.
Upon release, US Airways and other airlines refused to allow them to purchase tickets for other scheduled flights to Phoenix.
The MAS Freedom Foundation has demanded an investigation from the US Department of Transportation and the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department.
With support pouring in from Christian and Jewish leaders, American Muslims are planning a mass prayer and interfaith response on Friday, December1, at the Tempe, AZ corporate headquarters of US Airways.
"Our faith requires us to stand for justice and to oppose injustice, thus it is in this spirit that we will have a massive Jumah (Friday) prayer followed by a show of support by prominent activist, community, and interfaith leaders across from the headquarters of US Airways," said Bray.
"The purpose is to make it perfectly clear to US Airways that not only is the Muslim community going to resist racial and religious profiling but we have many allies who also support our position," he added.
"Many non-Muslims in the interfaith community see this not only as bigotry towards Muslims but also as an attack on religious freedom," said the Muslim activist.
"We have received considerable support from the non-Muslim community, especially African-Americans and clergy."
The Muslim activist did not rule out the possibility of boycotting the airliner.
"Who knows, if US Airways doesn't comply there could possibly be a boycott and given the financial difficulties that they are having, I don't think they want that."
Protesting the incident, imams, ministers and a rabbi staged an interfaith "pray-in" demonstration Monday, November 27, at Reagan Washington National Airport.
"I was offended that they were handcuffed and then retained for five hours and finally denied the right to purchase tickets to Arizona," said long-time civil rights activist and former Congressman Walter Fauntroy.
"No American citizenship should be subject to that kind of irresponsible treatment. If ever there were a time to speak to leaders to pray for peace in the world, it is today."
Shahin, Bray and a handful of Muslims conducted a public prayer along with Jewish and Christian clergy who recited their prayers in Terminal A near the US Airways ticket counter.
"Upon conclusion the faith leaders proceeded promptly to the security gate and boarded a 9:30 a.m. US Airways Flight," Bray told IOL.
The religious leaders pressed US Airways to issue a formal apology to the imams, and to make restitution to them for being handcuffed, removed from their flight, and detained in the airport.
Hillary Shelton, director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) national office who joined the pray-in, called on Congress to pass a legislation that would end racial profiling.
Shelton said that the bill is necessary because airlines are unclear on how to deal with racial and ethnic profiling.
Congressman Keith Ellison, the fist Muslim elected to Congress, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee have also expressed their opposition to such racial and religious profiling.
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