Tuesday, March 27, 2007

USA Today comes out against Imams lawsuit

Terrorism: Unusually tough language from the watercolors paper.

"....Now the reward for being vigilant apparently includes being dragged into a lawsuit and accused of bigotry. The wry adage about how no good deed goes unpunished seems apt, though not so funny.

The lawsuit grew out of an incident last November when six Muslim clerics, returning from a religious conference in Minneapolis, were removed from a US Airways flight after passengers and crew raised alarms. The imams were questioned by authorities and released. The six say they are innocent victims of ethnic profiling for merely praying quietly in Arabic at the terminal.

Their lawsuit, filed earlier this month, accused the airline and Metropolitan Airports Commission of anti-Muslim bias. That was expected. What's unique and especially troubling, though, is the effort to identify an unknown number of passengers and airline employees who reported suspicions so they might also be included as defendants. For example, the imams want to know the names of an elderly couple who turned around "to watch" and then made cellphone calls, presumably to authorities, as the men prayed.

This legal tactic seems designed to intimidate passengers willing to do exactly what authorities have requested — say something about suspicious activity.

The imams' actions last November appeared to be either deliberately provocative or clueless as to how others might perceive them. Several passengers and crewmembers told authorities that the men loudly chanted "Allah" several times, cursed U.S. involvement in Iraq and switched their seat assignments. Three imams asked for seat belt extenders, which include a heavy metal buckle that could be used as a weapon, but left them on the floor."

Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR's legal director gets space to tell their side of the story which ends up proving USAtoday's point that the lawsuit is being used to intimidate passengers.

"....The lawsuit by the imams is seeking damages from US Airways for their alleged discrimination. It is not against any passengers who reported "suspicious" activity in good faith, even when that "suspicious" behavior includes religiously mandated prayers.

However, political cherry-pickers insinuate that the lawsuit punishes travelers who report suspicious activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. American Muslims are committed to the security of our nation. The six imams are signatories to an Islamic fatwa (religious decree) that states: "It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians."

Reporting suspicious criminal activity to law enforcement authorities does not absolve anyone from the responsibility to be factual. False reporting is criminal. We want to find out whether these "John Does" made other false claims against the imams — not just that they were praying, however ignorant complaining about that might be."

Basically everything the "John Does" reported to CAIR ranges from ignorance to bigotry. The whole point of the lawsuit is to shut people up, they don't necessarily have to win, just drag people thru the system to make others wary of reporting anything.

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