This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2572

Islamic Society of North America discusses training Imams together with North American Imam Federation for cultural and political Jihad

November 29, 2006

http://www.ildc.net/ildc-news/2006/11/24/naif-conference-2006.html

NAIF Conference 2006

Annual Conference of North American Imams Federation (NAIF)

ILDC executive director attended the 3rd Annual Conference of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF),entitled "Towards Improving Imams' Professionalism and Community Outreach,"that was held in Minneapolis, MN, from November 17-19, 2006. The conference attracted over 150 imams from North America. The participants represented the full spectrum of imams in North America. Major Muslim ethnicities, including African American, Indo-Pakistan, and Middle Eastern, were represented in the meetings. The conference was divided into a series of short plenary sessions; Dr. Safi addressed the conference on Saturday evening, and introduced ILDC and its programs. He informed the participants that ILDC was created primarily to provide leadership training and education to imams and community leaders. Dr. Safi also met with key members of the Board of Trustee and the Executive Committee and discussed possible cooperation between ISNA and NAIF in the area of imam training. During the meeting, it was agreed that ILDC will organize three training programs in 2007, particularly in the area of interfaith and communication. It was also agreed that ILDC would help in doing statistical analysis for surveys conducted by both organizations. During the Conference, other areas of concern were underscored, most notably civil liberties, and dealing with the media.

The conference provided an instantaneous translation to Arabic, as a significant majority of the participants have better command of Arabic than English. Many of those who spoke appeared to have little insight to institutional settings in the United States. Keith Ellison, the congressman from Minneapolis, also spoke before the conference, and got an earful advice during the question answer, but his talk was general well-received.

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http://www.imamsofamerica.com/

Email : naif2003@gmail.com

NAIF Statement on Degrading Some Imams at Minneapolis

At a time when Imams in the United States try hard to spread the spirit of tolerance between Muslims and their fellow American citizens, six Imams were degradingly detained for five hours at Minneapolis airport on November 11, 2006. This shocked not only Imams but also all Muslims inside and outside the United States. For Muslims, an Imam is a role model and an actual representative of their faith. It is sad that what was deemed a "suspicious act" of the detained Imams was nothing but performing a mandatory prayer, which has to be done at a set time.

This incident has accentuated the feeling that in our American society there is still discrimination based on one's faith even though this violates the American constitution and norm. We stress that the solution for this problem is not solely the responsibility of the Muslim community but of everyone from the high-level officials to the American masses. We, at NAIF, promise to go on spreading tolerance and building trust. However, at the same time, we wish that all others follow suit and that they do not hamper these noble efforts.

Our Islam teaches us that freedom of religion is the right of all humans. According to the Qur'an, "there is no compulsion in religion". We believe in this and practice it in our lives, and we know that this is also guaranteed in this land America. Hence, let us coexist peacefully , maintaining good neighborhood, respecting the principles of justice and equality as well as ostracizing those who spread discrimination and hatred.

The North American Imams Federation

بيان اتحاد الأئمة بأمريكا الشمالية
حول حادثة اهانة بعض الأئمة بمطار مينابلس

في الوقت الذي يحاول فيه الأئمة في الولايات المتحدة تكثيف جهودهم لاشاعة روح التسامح بين المسلمين وغيرهم من المواطنين الامريكيين تأتي حادثة توقيف ستة من الأئمة بمطار مينابلس مساء 11-20-06 لمدة خمس ساعات وبصورة مهينة لتشكل صدمة لا للأئمة فحسب بل لجميع المسلمين سواء المقيمين في أمريكا أو خارجها, فالإمام عند المسلمين هو رمز لهم وهو الممثل الفعلي لدينهم. والذي زاد من ألمنا أن ما قام به بعض الأئمة المسافرين واعتبر مصدرا للشك- لم يكن سوى أدائهم لشعائر الصلاة المفروضة والتي يجب أداؤها في أوقات معينة.

تأتي هذه الحادة لتعمق الشعور بأنه لا زال هناك في مجتمعنا الأمريكي تمييز على أساس الدين رغم مخالفة هذا للدستور وللعرف الأمريكيين. ونحن نؤكد هنا بأن علاج هذا لا يقع على عاتق الجالية المسلمة هنا فحسب بل يقع على كاهل الجميع ابتداء بالمسؤولين وانتهاء بجموع الشعب الأمريكي.

إننا في اتحاد الأئمة لأمريكا الشمالية نعد بالاستمرار في إشاعة روع التسامح وإيجاد الثقة بين الجميع ولكننا في الوقت نفسه نطلب من الجميع أن يحذو حذونا وألا يضع أحد العراقيل التي تحول أو تعرقل هذه الجهود الطيبة.

ان إسلامنا يعلمنا أن حرية الاعتقاد مكفولة لجميع بني البشر فكتابنا المقدس القرآن الكريم يقول: ( لا إكراه في الدين) ونحن نؤمن بهذا ونمارسه في حياتنا, وإننا نعلم أن هذا مكفول أيضا لمن يقيم على هذه الأرض: أمريكا. فدعونا نعيش معا في هذه الأرض بسلام وحسن جوار محترمين لمبادئ العدل والمساواة في دستورها نابذين لكل من ينشر التمييز والكراهية.

اتحاد الأئمة في أمريكا الشمالية

Congressman Harry Mitchell had a meeting with the Imams

of the Phoenix area who were escorted off a US Airways jetliner by federal marshals in Minneapolis, handcuffed, detained and questioned for nearly six hours before they were finally released. Muslims across the US have expressed deep concern and shock at the treatment of their religious leaders.

At the local level, AZ PAC organized the meeting of Imams with the Congressman Harry Mitchell so that they could present their side of the story at a personal level. Imam Omar Shaheen gave an account of what really happened and uttered deep disappointment with US Airways for providing misinformation to the news media. This should be really an eye opener for many of us who have heard different versions of the story from various news media.

* Contrary to what was reported, all Imams were traveling with returned tickets. They have the itineraries to prove it. * All Imams were traveling with their luggage, either hand carry or check-in. * Neither the pilot nor any of the flight attendants talked to them about leaving the aircraft. They were in the dark about the flight delay like the rest of the passengers in the airplane. * While on the airplane, all Imams went to their assigned seats. Omar Shaheen, who had been assigned a seat in the first class, offered Imam Marwan his seat so that he could sit comfortably. Imam Marwan is blind and needs help while traveling. Imam Marwan respectfully denied the request. * While on the airplane or inside the terminal, all Imams communicated in English in respect to one of the Imams who does not speak Arabic. * This is absolutely not true that the group was making pro-Saddam and anti-American statements.

Congressman Harry Mitchell listened intently to the discussions and promised to do every thing in his power to provide his support.

"We should wait for the investigation to complete", Harry Mitchell said. "However, after listening to this story, I cannot see if they have anything to stand on", he remarked.

The meeting ended in a positive note as Harry Mitchell chatted informally with other attendees and the family members of the Imams.

The Arrests of Muslim Imams.
By the Rev. Dr. Wayne Robinson, Minister, All Faiths Unitarian Congregation, Ft. Myers, Florida.

I read with incredulity today the story that was run on the arrest and handcuffing Monday of six imams in Minneapolis. When I realized that one of them was my friend and colleague, Omar Shahin, I was absolutely outraged. Just this past summer, we both were postgraduate students at Oxford University, sat in class next to each other and broke bread together. He was repeatedly called upon by our professor to share a Muslim perspective on the theological issues before us. Always, he was learned, moderate and compassionate.

His credentials include not only his service as imam of the Islamic Center of East Valley, Arizona, but he is also the president of the North American Imams Federation, a lecturer at American Open University, and a licensed Islamic Attorney in Jordan. More importantly, he is exactly the kind of religious leader America needs to help it overcome its centuries of practicing Judeo-Christian supremacy.

For someone with his credentials to be handcuffed, held by police, and refused access to a flight on US Airways because he and his colleagues mentioned the Arabic name for God, and that they may have elevated their voice when praying, is an absolute travesty in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

My immediate response was to want to lead a protest against U.S. Airways. While their racist practices are deplorable, more realistically, they have succumbed to the failure of most Americans and our government. Namely, we have refused to spend any time attempting to understand how and why anyone would commit the terrorist tragedy of 9-11.

Had we done so, we might now not be so susceptible to a pervasive fear of any practitioners of the ancient faith of Islam. Instead, anyone who asked questions about our "blow them to bits" policy was deemed unpatriotic. The infantile black and white strokes of President Bush "you're either for us or against us" were accepted as the law of the land. But as any student of reason or logic knows there are always options between black or white, all or none, yes or no. It's the middle ground that seeks to understand, that turns to other options, that seeks peace rather than bombing the hell out of anyone who disagrees.

The civil rights movement of African Americans in the past century should have taught us that it wasn't single incidents of racism in America that were the problem. Rather, it was a prevailing culture that was racist to the core. It was fed, according to Dr. King, by the violent proclivities nurtured in this nation.

Tragically, that system is alive and well. It spawned the incident of racism Monday in Minneapolis. Today it's Islam, yesterday it was African Americans, the day before that Japanese Americans, and the day before that, Jews. In my own home of Lee County, Florida, it's Hispanics and Spanish-speaking residents.

The solution is not suing US Airways, though that should be pursued with vigor. Nor is it laying the blame on a sorry airline, though they should be steeply penalized. Rather, it's time for America to revisit our continuing core issues of racism and prejudice.

That includes not only reexamining our self-righteous Judeo-Christian attitudes, but also why we totally ignore the role our policies in Israel and the Occupied Territories of Palestine have played in creating hatred against all things American. Or ignoring the fact that thinking Americans by the millions bought books like the religious trash of the "Left Behind" series, which promotes a raw brand of Christian fundamentalism on a par with Muslim extremism.

While finger-pointing is the response of the day, the more appropriate one is to realize that the blame lies with America itself. Nothing that's happened in the recent past has done anything to eradicate our deeply rooted feelings of superiority as White Christians, demonstrated by 200+ years of prejudice against anyone of a different color, race, language, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion.

In the meantime, we should stop singing, "God bless America" or the "Star Spangled Banner" until we as a nation are willing to confess our systemic and pervasive sins of racism and prejudice. An appropriate alternative could be new lyrics which start with, "God help America."

Fiqh Council of North America
Condemns Mistreatment of Imams

Last weekend, a conference of American Imams was held in Minneapolis. While waiting for their flights back to their home cities, six of the Imams performed their prayers in the airport terminal. On the basis of a claim by a passenger that the behavior of these Imams [their prayers] was suspicious, the airlines along with airport security removed the Imams from the flight in the view of other passengers. They were detained, questioned for several hours and denied boarding on later flights of the same airline. This unfortunate incident exemplifies the following:

1. The general atmosphere of fear-mongering and Islamophobia which is being perpetuated through irresponsible statements by some politicians and by spin in news reporting by certain mass media outlets and by certain news commentators.

2. An epidemic of ignorance among a major segment of the public about the true message of Islam and the devotional practices of Muslims, which would lead some to perceive a peaceful act of worship as "suspicious behavior" or a threat to security. Combined with the worsening Islamophobia, this is resulting in constant racial and religious profiling, making it worrisome if not risky to "travel while being a Muslim."

3. Since this type of incident is a recurring phenomenon, and not an isolated event, it only exemplifies the various forms of harassment that American Muslims and others face while traveling even after going through all security screening measures.

The Fiqh Council of North America calls on the American Muslim community as well as the American public at large to speak out against this and all unjust, discriminatory, un-American and potentially unconstitutional acts against minorities. All truly patriotic Americans would like to see themselves as leading proponents of justice, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Americans should therefore demand that individuals, institutions and governments exemplify the core ideals of our country. These ideals are also compatible with the normative teachings of Islam.

An investigation of this serious incident against freedom of worship and freedom of expression is called for and at the highest levels with the view toward ending all forms of policies and certain post 9-11 legislation which encroach on basic human and civil liberties in the name of security. The balance between legitimate security concerns and the inviolable human and civil rights is currently heavily tilted against liberties in such a way that it is a threat to both. The concerted efforts of all Americans are urgently needed to restore both.

CAIR's Response

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HEARINGS ON PROFILING SOUGHT AFTER IMAMS REMOVED FROM MN FLIGHT

DHS office of civil rights opens review of 'flying while Muslim' incident

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/21/06) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called for congressional hearings on religious and ethnic profiling at airports after six Imams, or Muslim religious leaders, were removed from a domestic flight yesterday in Minnesota.

The Imams were taken off a US Airways flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Monday night because of alleged "suspicious activity." The Imams, who were handcuffed and questioned for several hours by authorities before being released, told the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) they suspect the activity cited by authorities was the performance of normal evening prayers offered by members of the group in the airport before boarding the flight.

The detained Imams also denied reports that they refused to leave the plane or that they chanted "Allah" as they were escorted from the flight. US Airways refused to allow the Imams to take another flight or to assist them in obtaining tickets on another airline. They eventually obtained tickets on Northwest Airlines and are on their way to Arizona.

SEE: U.S. Muslims Outraged After Imams Kicked Off Plane (Reuters)

SEE ALSO: CAIR Rep Discusses 'Flying While Muslim' Incident on MSNBC

All of the detained Imams, several of whom are from Arizona, were in Minnesota to attend a conference of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF). A representative of the FBI was invited to attend the conference.

At a Capitol Hill news conference, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said today that security concerns are of "paramount importance," but that the incident in Minnesota was apparently triggered by prejudice and ignorance, not by real evidence of a threat to passenger safety:

"CAIR is receiving more reports of 'flying while Muslim' and racial profiling incidents from members of the Islamic community nationwide. We therefore call for congressional hearings to deal with the issue of racial, religious and ethnic profiling in our nation's airports.

"We also call on the Department of Justice and the Transportation Security Administration to conduct thorough investigations into the incident in Minnesota and to ensure that security procedures of US Airways and other airlines conform to constitutional standards mandating the protection of religious freedom and other civil rights."

Awad said CAIR would be seeking a meeting with US Airways officials to discuss the Minnesota incident and past complaints against the airline by members of the American Muslim community.

He added that CAIR received a letter today from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties saying it has opened a review of the case as it relates to the actions of DHS employees.

Hilary 0. Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington Bureau, said in a statement:

"The NAACP is deeply concerned with the most recent incident of Arab-Americans being removed from an airplane in Minneapolis after they prayed. As much as all Americans are concerned with the threat of terrorism and the security of our nation, for law-abiding Americans to be abused and removed from the plane is deeply disturbing.

"This matter is unfortunately consistent with the experience of African-Americans who have been detained while simply traveling on our nation's highways, flyways and sidewalks. We encourage a thorough investigation into the matter and call for the passing of the End Racial Profiling Act, which is currently pending in Congress."

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

- END -

Some Muslims Call Airport Detention Bias Nov 22nd - 4:02am Maui Tourism sponsor links Wizards Tickets Redskins Tickets Def Leppard Tickets Capitals Tickets Keith Urban Tickets Seating Charts Print Print Print Print

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By JOSHUA FREED Associated Press Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The police report listed the incident as "Security-Other," but some saw the detention of six imams at the airport here as a case of "Flying while Muslim" _ the idea that Muslims come in for extra scrutiny when they fly.

The imams were removed from the flight to Phoenix on Monday night after three of them said their normal evening prayers in the terminal in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport before boarding, said Omar Shahin, president of the North American Imams Federation, who was one of the passengers removed. The passengers were among 150 imams who attended a federation meeting in Minneapolis.

"It's discrimination," Shahin said, calling for a boycott of US Airways.

It was just the latest incident in which passengers who were Muslim or, in some cases, just not Caucasian were removed from a flight for questioning. In August, a flight from Amsterdam to Mumbai was escorted back to the airport by F-16 fighters because a group of Indians on the plane had a large number of cell phones, notebook computers and hard drives, and refused to follow the crew's instructions.

"In this country, there was a time that Catholics were profiled, and they were stereotyped and discriminated (against), and Jewish people," said Dr. Shahid Athar, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who also writes and lectures on Muslim interaction in the West. "It looks like it is our turn now."

In the incident Monday, a passenger reported overhearing the imams criticize the U.S. in Iraq and speaking angrily near the gate. The men were interrogated by the FBI and the Secret Service. They had to fly a different airline out of town on Tuesday after US Airways refused to let them on any of its flights.

"Unfortunately, this is a growing problem of singling out Muslims or people perceived to be Muslims at airport, and it's one that we've been addressing for some time," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group planned to file a complaint over the incident, Hooper said.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the group has been receiving more reports of profiling.

According to a police report, a US Airways manager said three of the men had one-way tickets and no checked baggage. Some of the men also asked for seat belt extensions even though a flight attendant told police she thought they didn't need them.

The police report said the flight's captain had already decided he wanted the men off the plane after the passenger passed him a note pointing out "suspicious Arabic men."

An airport police officer and a Federal Air Marshal agreed the combination of circumstances was suspicious, and eventually asked the men to leave the airplane, according to the police report. The report said they got off the plane without incident.

"The police came and take us off the plane in front of all the passengers in a very humiliating way," Shahin said. "I never felt bad in my life like yesterday. It was the worst moment in my life when I see six imams, six leaders in this community, humiliated."

The Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties said in a letter Tuesday it had opened an investigation. It also said the department will coordinate with other government agencies with the authority to review the conduct of airline and other government employees.

Shahin eventually booked flights on Northwest Airlines _ to Phoenix for five of the imams from the Phoenix-Tempe area and to Los Angeles for the sixth, who was from Bakersfield, Calif.

"May Allah the God forgive everyone who did this," Shahin said before going through the security checkpoint on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

US Airways Group Inc. issued a statement saying it was interviewing crew members and ground workers to find out more about what happened.

"We are always concerned when passengers are inconvenienced and especially concerned when a situation occurs that causes customers to feel their dignity was compromised. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind," the airline said.

___

Some Muslims Call Airport Detention Bias

Associated Press Writers Martiga Lohn in Minneapolis and Natasha T. Metzler in Washington contributed to this story.

By JOSHUA FREED Associated Press Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The police report listed the incident as "Security-Other," but some saw the detention of six imams at the airport here as a case of "Flying while Muslim" _ the idea that Muslims come in for extra scrutiny when they fly.

Council on American Islamic Relations spokespersons Mohammed AbuHannoud, left, and Bushra Khan, right, answers reporters' questions during a news conference regarding the removal of six imams (Muslim religious leaders) from a US Airways flight, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Article Tools Print Print Email Email AIM AIM Digg it Digg it Most Viewed Stories

The imams were removed from the flight to Phoenix on Monday night after three of them said their normal evening prayers in the terminal in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport before boarding, said Omar Shahin, president of the North American Imams Federation, who was one of the passengers removed. The passengers were among 150 imams who attended a federation meeting in Minneapolis.

"It's discrimination," Shahin said, calling for a boycott of US Airways.

It was just the latest incident in which passengers who were Muslim or, in some cases, just not Caucasian were removed from a flight for questioning. In August, a flight from Amsterdam to Mumbai was escorted back to the airport by F-16 fighters because a group of Indians on the plane had a large number of cell phones, notebook computers and hard drives, and refused to follow the crew's instructions.

"In this country, there was a time that Catholics were profiled, and they were stereotyped and discriminated (against), and Jewish people," said Dr. Shahid Athar, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who also writes and lectures on Muslim interaction in the West. "It looks like it is our turn now."

In the incident Monday, a passenger reported overhearing the imams criticize the U.S. in Iraq and speaking angrily near the gate. The men were interrogated by the FBI and the Secret Service. They had to fly a different airline out of town on Tuesday after US Airways refused to let them on any of its flights.

"Unfortunately, this is a growing problem of singling out Muslims or people perceived to be Muslims at airport, and it's one that we've been addressing for some time," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group planned to file a complaint over the incident, Hooper said.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the group has been receiving more reports of profiling.

According to a police report, a US Airways manager said three of the men had one-way tickets and no checked baggage. Some of the men also asked for seat belt extensions even though a flight attendant told police she thought they didn't need them.

The police report said the flight's captain had already decided he wanted the men off the plane after the passenger passed him a note pointing out "suspicious Arabic men."

An airport police officer and a Federal Air Marshal agreed the combination of circumstances was suspicious, and eventually asked the men to leave the airplane, according to the police report. The report said they got off the plane without incident.

"The police came and take us off the plane in front of all the passengers in a very humiliating way," Shahin said. "I never felt bad in my life like yesterday. It was the worst moment in my life when I see six imams, six leaders in this community, humiliated."

The Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties said in a letter Tuesday it had opened an investigation. It also said the department will coordinate with other government agencies with the authority to review the conduct of airline and other government employees.

Shahin eventually booked flights on Northwest Airlines _ to Phoenix for five of the imams from the Phoenix-Tempe area and to Los Angeles for the sixth, who was from Bakersfield, Calif.

"May Allah the God forgive everyone who did this," Shahin said before going through the security checkpoint on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

US Airways Group Inc. issued a statement saying it was interviewing crew members and ground workers to find out more about what happened.

"We are always concerned when passengers are inconvenienced and especially concerned when a situation occurs that causes customers to feel their dignity was compromised. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind," the airline said.

___

Group calls for probe after 6 Muslim imams removed from flight

Updated 11/21/2006 12:16 PM MINNEAPOLIS (AP)

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called Tuesday for an investigation into the behavior of airline staff and airport security in the removal of six Muslim scholars from a US Airways flight a day earlier.

A passenger raised concerns about the imams three of whom said their normal evening prayers in the airport terminal before boarding the Phoenix-bound plane, according to one through a note passed to a flight attendant, according to Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for US Airways.

"We are concerned that crewmembers, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam," Nihad Awad, the council's executive director, said in a news release.

The six were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, said Omar Shahin of Phoenix, president of the group.

"They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way," Shahin said after the incident.

Shahin said Tuesday that three members of the group prayed in the terminal before the six boarded the plane. They entered individually, except for one member who is blind and needed to be guided, Shahin said. Once on the plane, the six did not sit together, he said.

"We did nothing" on the plane, Shahin said.

The six were among passengers who boarded Flight 300, bound for Phoenix, around 6:30 p.m. Monday, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said.

Police were called after the captain and airport security workers asked the men to leave the plane and the men refused, Rader said.

Shahin said no one asked the six to leave until police arrived, when the group complied.

"Unfortunately, this is a growing problem of singling out Muslims or people perceived to be Muslims at airports, and it's one that we've been addressing for some time," council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

Hooper said the meeting drew about 150 imams from all over the country, and that those attending included Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who just became the first Muslim elected to Congress. Shahin said they went as far as notifying police and the FBI about their meeting in advance.

Shahin expressed frustration that despite extensive efforts by him and other Muslim leaders since even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks so many Americans know so little about Islam.

"If up to now they don't know about prayers, this is a real problem," he said.

Shahin said the group spent the night at the home of a local imam and was waiting for a phone call Tuesday from US Airways. Hooper said US Airways refused to put the men on another flight.

US Airways issued a statement Tuesday saying the airline was debriefing crewmembers and ground personnel and working with law enforcement officials to determine the facts surrounding the incident.

"We are always concerned when passengers are inconvenienced and especially concerned when a situation occurs that causes customers to feel their dignity was compromised," the airline statement said. "We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind and will continue to exhaust our internal investigation until we know the facts of this case and can provide answers for the employees and customers involved in this incident."

The other passengers on the flight, which was carrying 141 passengers and five crewmembers, were re-screened for boarding, Rader said. The plane took off about three hours after the men were removed.

6 Imams Traveling from Conference In Minnesota Detained at Airport and Prevented from Boarding Later Flights

MAS to File Letter of Discrimination to the Federal Aviation Committee and Contacts Congress for an Investigation

WASHINGTON, DC - Nov. 21, 2006 (MASNET) Late Monday evening 6 Imams (religious leaders), traveling from a religious leader's conference in Minnesota, were removed from their flight and detained in the airport for questioning. 5 of the detained Imams were from Arizona while one was from California.

Reports indicate that a passenger sent a note to the flight crew indicating that "he felt unsafe with the Imams on-board". Eyewitness accounts have suggested that this was a result of the Imams praying their evening prayers in the airport terminal. Following their release US airways refused to allow them on any future flights although they were never arrested nor charged with any crime. After their 5 hour ordeal the Imams were left stranded at the airport, unable to purchase an outgoing flight on any of the remaining airlines.

"The detention of these religious leaders, and the refusal of the airline to allow them travel, is a gross example of blatant Islamophobia and the violation of the civil rights of Muslim passengers", said Imam Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation. "These religious men had already gone through the airport security screening, like all other passengers on the aircraft. The fact that some of them chose to openly pray did not warrant, by any means, their removal from the plane."

"Last time I checked public prayer was still protected by the U.S. constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and speech. We charge the airline with not only discrimination, but with an action that is insulting and demeaning to these Muslim religious leaders, and to all people of faith."

Deedra Abboud, Director of MAS Freedom-Arizona stated that "This incident is just another example in the long list of Muslim discrimination by Airlines. The public disgrace of innocent people is unacceptable and we at MAS Freedom plan to utilize the resources of our 55 chapters nationwide to meet with top airline officials and end this blatant attack on our civil liberties."

MAS Freedom has forwarded a letter of discrimination to the Chairman (Senator Conrad Burns), and the Ranking Member (Senator John D. Rockefeller) of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee. Additionally MAS Freedom has contacted Congressman John Mica and Congressman Jerry Costello, Chairman and Ranking Member, of the House Aviation Subcommittee.

We call on all people of conscience to speak out against these attacks on our freedoms.

Individuals who are interested in this case are encouraged to contact Deedra Abboud, MAS Freedom-Arizona at: (480) 921-FREE (3373) or

the MAS Freedom national office at: (202) 496-1288

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Emails from Supporters. Thank you

Hi NAIF members-

I just wanted to send a word of support and an apology for others' ignorance/indifference in regard to the detention in Minn/St Paul. I'm just one person, but I felt I should let you know how disheartening it is that representatives from your federation were singled out.

Hopefully, the time will come when we can all embrace eah others differences and respect each others religions and beliefs, as that was why this country was originally founded. At any rate, I just wanted to express my thoughts.

cheers,

Craig Willard

---------------------------------------
I just wanted to write to say I am sorry for the treatment that your members received on their flight Monday.

Sincerely,

Sorrel Sammons
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I would just like to say that I was appalled to read about the incident at the Minneapolis-St Paul airport when the six Imams were forcefully removed from the plane and the humiliation it caused them. I admit, I do not know very much about Islam, but I see it as another religion just like Judaism or any other and pride myself on not being judgemental of anyone of any religion, race, or any other factor.

I apologize for the ignorance they encountered and assure you that not all non-Muslims are so narrow-minded. I hope you encounter great happiness in your lives and that your message and the appalling incident raises awareness of the uncalled for bias against Muslims.

Jennifer McCurdy

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Hello,

I just wanted to express how saddened and outraged I was to hear of the detention of six Imams in Minnesota. This national atmosphere of misguided suspicion is catastrophic and erodes the basic civil dignities that life in this country used to guarantee. I hope they are doing well and have made it safely back to their homes.

Best Regards,
Rhonda Hofman
Mobile, Alabama

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I have been following the news story about the six Imams who were treated so egregiously here in Minnesota. I just wanted to let you know that the ACLU of Minnesota would like to help in any way that we can. Please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Teresa Nelson

Legal Counsel

ACLU Of Minnesota

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felt compelled to send a quick note of support for the Imams who were subjected to the unjust treatment on US Airways this past Monday- it is a shame we fear persons because of their appearance and or beliefs...let us look forward to a world which embraces our differences and diversity!

Kevin Mollenhauer RN

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I just wanted to say a few words. I know I had nothing to do with the detention and mistreatment of the 6 Imams here in Minnesota, however, I do wish to apologize to all affected.

I just do not understand the bigotry, hatred and mistrust. Everything that "Radical Muslims" are doing now has been done countless times through history by "Christians" and no one even bothers to make the connection. I'm not Muslim, I'm not even sure that I'm Christian, but, in looking for my path, I've at least looked at most religions. On September 11, 2001, I was enrolled in a class for A+ certification in computers. There were 5 of us in that class. Myself the only non-muslim student with a teacher who was formerly in the Special Forces. On the first class day post 9/11, 2 of the students wouldn't come in to class. Our teacher personally went out and picked them up stating anyone with a problem would answer to him. All 4 of the other students were very dismayed over the events that had occured. If not for that, I may have taken a different stance, but that opened my eyes.

I'm sorry to drone on, but I just want you to know that not everyone is ready to jump at shadows. I understand enough about your religion to know that you have very strict payer regimens at not only specific times of day, but also facing certain directions. I know I don't want my own religious freedoms to be stepped on and I certainly do not agree with stepping on those of others. May your day be blessed.

Thomas Funari

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I sent this to US Airways today:

Dear Sir, I am writing to protest the treatment of the six imams who were removed from your airline because they prayed in public. This would be the equivalent of Catholic priests visiting in China being arrested because they prayed to Jesus in public. This is supposed to be a country with freedom of speech and religion. Apparently members of the North American Immam Federation going to the convention in Minneapolis had even notified and police and the FBI of their convention in advance. I suggest you do some work educating your staff and security people about the religious customs of others. I will think twice about flying US Airways until I read about an apology and a plan for handling situations like this in the future. For your information, it is not a crime to speak Arabic or pray in public.

Diana Cundy

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As a clergyperson, I am appalled that members of your federation were removed from a flight for praying. I pray before I fly. It is a perfectly ordinary and appropriate thing to do, especially if it were time for evening prayers.

I am so sorry that stereotypes continue to disrupt the lives of Muslims in America.

Katie Pate Associate Pastor Rose City Park Presbyterian Church Portland, Oregon

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Here is an immediate practical solution to the recent shameful
display of prejudice at the airport in Minneapolis.

All airport security people, and airline personnel nationwide, should
be shown a 10-minute video that would explain what the five daily
prayers are, where, when and how they happen, why they are important,
and establish respect. This video could be written and provided by
responsible American Muslim leaders. It could be shown on a portable
DVD player twice a year, with updates and clarifications of other
information pertinent to Islam and travellers, to everyone who swipes
a wand, punches a ticket or looks at a passport. Then those people
could explain to passengers, if the question comes up as it did this
past week, exactly what is going on, and allay their concerns.
Everyone would benefit from this learning.

Americans can get past our understandable aversion to seeing a group
of Muslim men huddling together in an airport. To achieve that
breakthrough, we need a leader with the courage to stand with a
Muslim leader, and to speak openly with respect about Islam.

If we had a President with real courage, he would have long ago
gotten to know a leading international Imam, who commands global
respect -- and introduced him to the American public as a friend, as
an opponent of extremism and violence (which most responsible Imams
are). Introduce a leading Imam from the American community as well.

Reassure people that we have deep common cultural roots, and that
nearly all Muslims are law-abiding citizens of their countries and
want peace. And respect.

That one image, with words and actions to back it up, would have long
ago worked to disarm Islamic extremists, with good Muslims exposing
them hiding in their mosques and madrassahs and cells, and (along
with focused intelligence and aggressive, highly-targeted special
forces action) would have won the war on terror. No "shock and awe"
required. Being tough does not have to mean being stupid.

9/11 would now be a painful memory, a stark reminder of the past.
Muslims would be moving toward peace, toward justice on the issues
which concern them, and toward profound respect worldwide. As it
should be.

But 9/11 remains a horrifying vision of the future, a prediction of
more mass death, a dark fantasy that Americans carry around with us
-- because the President wants it that way. It serves his political
interest to keep people paranoid, and until three weeks ago this was
his central tool to secure and expand his power. Right up through
election night, he was telling us that the terrorists would kill us
if we voted for Democrats.

It's too early to tell whether the results of the election can change
that.

A spokesman for the Imams was on CNN this morning, and he said (my
paraphrase of several quotes): "We will not be silent about this
prejudice. We are proud to be Americans, and we will not allow
America's good name to be compromised. We stand up for our rights,
and for the rights of every American."

Could not have said it better myself.

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My husband and I, and friends, want to express our sincere regrets about your mistreatment by U.S. Airways, the police and the FBI. We have read and watched much about this incident, including Paula Zahn's obviously biased treatment of the news and of you, Emmy Goodman War and Peace Report. The latter is what prompted us to write.

We live in a small town in Northern California where most people are kind hearted and more or less enlightened about the world at large. We hope that U.S. Airways will see fit to publicly apologize for their wrongful and ill treatment of you. The way they and the police and the FBI handled themselves is NOT the American way. But then, you know that; you have shown by your actions that you know better than they what the American way is.

Sincerely,

Mack and Missy.


This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2572