(Here is an additional story by M. Zuhdi Jasser, The Muslim American who is the main voice in the most excellent film, ‘The Third Jihad’, a 1/2 version of which is available here on VTB. on the subject of the ‘flying imams’)
“Muslim passengers removed from AirTran Airways flight from Washington
Federal officials ordered all 104 passengers off the plane and re-screened them before allowing the flight to depart.
January 2, 2009 – 10:06
AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson says the airline strictly followed federal rules.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON – AirTran Airways says nine Muslim passengers were removed from a flight from Washington, D.C., to Florida after other passengers reported hearing a suspicious remark.
An AirTran spokesman says it was a misunderstanding. The Muslim passengers say AirTran wouldn’t rebook them Thursday and they had to pay for seats on another airline.
Passenger Kashif Irfan tells The Washington Post the confusion began when his brother remarked aloud that the plane’s jets were next to his window.
Two other passengers reported hearing what they considered to be a suspicious remark.”
Now why it doesn’t matter in some ways and does in others. One aspect of it has to do with conflicting sets of rules. Clearly airlines have rules that force them to remove anyone who make even the perception of a threat to a flight. This is logical and expected. We cannot make jokes about bombs etc. this is the new post 911 reality for all of us. Muslims of course are pretty much the number one perpetrator of threats and attacks on airlines for the past decade or more. As we do not see massive amounts of Muslims speaking out against it and we do see more and more Muslims arrested for threats to airlines from China to the UK and beyond, one can expect extra vigilance towards Islamic passengers. There are also other rules against discrimination of any kind especially when its reasonable. This reminds me of a story from Ottawa pre internet so I’m sorry I do not have a link. The Ottawa Citizen archives would have the story though if someone wanted to pay the $75.00 to get it.
At some point in the 80s an immigrant family from somewhere in East Europe took their roll of film (remember film?) to be developed at a photo shack somewhere in Ottawa. The pictures contained traditional bear skin rug pictures of a new baby the youngest addition to this family of as I recall, three or four children. At that time there was a general hysteria about child pornography so rules had been put in place removing any ability from various people to make reasoned judgment about what was or was not child pornography. The photo developer employee was obliged by law to report the matter to the police. The child, baby really, was naked in the photo and on a furry carpet. This was of course the custom for many cultures as part of the set of keepsakes one has of one’s children. The Cherub shot and as innocent as could possibly be. The employee knew this of course but he had to act. The police also knew this. But they also had to act. New rules had removed the ability for the police to use discriminating wisdom and the father was arrested, the rest of the children taken to children’s aid and the family destroyed. After a few months the matter was dropped of course once someone who still had the legal right to act on the obvious could make a call. The father was released but he had lost his job and was stigmatized as a child pornographer at this point.
If memory serves they moved back to Eastern Europe where they could enjoy freedom.
Here we can add one more layer of complexity to a similar case. While its true that one rule contradicts the other, airlines have to use judgment to remove any threat real or perceived and its illegal to do so if its against the group which carries the greatest threat. There is also the new trend of ‘lawfare’. Many Muslims will deliberately act in a way to cause some fear amongst the passengers and then sue for discrimination. This by the way is in the Al Queda handbook. It is a tactic. (Yes, the Islamic world understands us a great deal better than we understand them.) In this particular instance it is not known which of these variables apply. They could be perfectly innocent people who where inconvenienced by the perceived threat they posed. In my world they should thank the airlines for keeping us all safe and understand. It’s what most of us would do. So it should be interesting to see how they do react. My money is on a major law suit against the air lines which has happened a few times already in similar circumstances.
Should they elect to sue I offer this alternative.
Why not create an all Muslim airline? One which only has halal foods and always flies facing mecca? They can call it ‘Shaheed Air’. There might have to be some kind of special sharia insurance plan for it but I’m sure the Saudis would underwrite it. I even have an idea for the add. It’s one the Pakistani carrier used back in the day.