Muslim imams call for boycott after US Airways flap

Ahmed Shqeirat was one of six imams detained Monday at the Twin Cities International Airport.

Six Muslim imams were removed Monday from a US Airways flight bound for their home in Phoenix after a passenger voiced suspicion, but they returned home on Tuesday on a Northwest Airlines flight.

The five Phoenix-area imams and one Californian flew on US Airways on their way to Minneapolis late last week to attend the fourth annual conference of North American Imams Federation (NAIF), which featured more than 170 Imams from around the country.

After hours in handcuffs and under questioning by the FBI, the Secret Service and the police, the men were released from the airport late Monday evening. By early Tuesday morning, they showed up at US Airway’s ticket counter, only to be informed that they will not be flying on US Airways, and that their tickets will be refunded.

“This is a discrimination against imams,” said a visibly irked Imam Omar Shahin, who led the group’s unsuccessful negotiation with a US Airways supervisor. “We Love America, but we condemn this action.”

“We call on Muslims and non-Muslims to boycott US Airways until they change their policies,” he added.

The unnamed US Airways supervisor gave no reason for her refusal to transport the imams, despite being cleared by the multiple security agencies the night before. But she asked the imams to “please leave the counter,” after Shahin repeatedly asked her to sell him six new tickets. She offered him a “customer satisfaction phone number,” but Shahin wasn’t interested.

It wasn’t immediately clear if US Airways had actually refunded the imams’ tickets.

The imams were removed from US Airways flight on Monday evening, apparently after a passenger told airline staff that the imams were behaving suspiciously.

One of the imams, Ahmed Shqeirat, denied those accusations. He also denied that they refused to get off the plane when asked by the pilot, as previously reported on the news media. “In fact, the pilot misled the passengers by telling them that he’s delaying the takeoff due to some paper work,” he said. “The fact is, that only three of us decided to say the evening prayer in the terminal, not inside the plane as was falsely circulated.”

Muslims are allowed to merge their daily five prayers into three while traveling. Shqeirat said the three who were praying, “performed their prayers quietly in an isolated corner.”

US Airways issued a statement saying that it doesn’t condone discrimination, and will investigate the incident internally.

Airport spokesman Pat Hogan said that airlines retain the right to refuse to carry anyone they deem inconveniences their business.

Asked if praying in airports is a good idea to continue, the imams said while they wouldn’t bend for a social pressure, they will consider alternatives.

In response to the accusations that the imams were chanting “Allah,” Shqeirat said that some people might have discerned it in the context of “Allahu Akbar,” which is the phrase Muslims use throughout the prayer’s motions.

Local and national reaction
What it boils down to, says Dr. Waleed Meneese, the Imam of Daralfarooq mosque in Southeast Minneapolis, “is that the faith of 1.5 billion people is becoming a suspicious practice in America.”

Imam Meneese, a ranking member of NAIF and co-organizer of the Minneapolis conference, hosted the six imams at his home after they were removed from the flight.

“Our community feels injured by this incident,” he said.

Imam Shqeirat said that they were “treated as if they were terrorists.” He and the other five imams were handcuffed and questioned for hours, while police dogs sniffed their luggage.

Airport trouble is not new to him, Shqeirat said, “but I’ve never been handcuffed.” A big “S” meaning “select” stamped on his ticket, he said, is routine as he travels around the country. “And that’s understandable,” he said.

In Washington, Corey Saylor, the government affairs director for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR),characterized the incident as a “Muslim stereotyping,” and said it was “deeply troubling.”

Saylor said his organization is examining options to lodge a complaint with the appropriate authorities, to “determine if proper procedures were followed.”

In Phoenix, “a special homecoming” that features “Muslim, Christian and Jewish friends is awaiting to receive the Imams in celebration and solidarity,” said Mohamed Abu Hannoud, a civil rights officer at CAIR’s Arizona chapter.

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hi yu bna

hi i need a any imam s e mail adress . lease help

It’s a no-win situation

It's a no-win situation really, can't please the muslims and the paranoid american people both at same time.

Wow, i can't believe people

Wow, i can't believe people actually think these guys are terrorists! I know one of the Imams personally, and a There Is Not A Kinder Man. He was my Arabic teacher in college and a very Patriotic Person! He's turned out more students that now have a command of Arabic than anyone can even know. How dare you people, it's rude and OBVIOUSLY RACIST. Even being near this man, he has a loving aura about him that is undeniable, with a kindness I can only associate with Mother Teresa. And no, im not a muslim The lawsuit is necessary because it is the only way that this type of blatant racism will ever be stopped.

so much for tolerance

Tiring to read, again and again, examples of discrimination supported by self-righteousness. Christians are no better than anyone else practicing religion. Most Christians forget that their own religious credo includes TOLERANCE of those who believe differently. Every single person in this world is an expression of the SAME DIVINE BEING. Religions just give "it" different names, different rituals, different ceremonies, different practices. Your preference is not the only way. The hate that you express of others is extended to yourself. Your inability to allow space for other ways of thinking narrows your own mind. Would you succeed in the workplace if you refused to be open to new ideas? When you claim to know everything about a religion, as if it were 100% bad, or 100% good, you express your lack of knowledge and understanding. Do some reading. You will be amazed, and if you are willing to practice acceptance, you may even be delighted. We, the people of this world, need to actively seek common ground.

Certainly, it is

Certainly, it is discrimination by the us public, fed by the media and the bush administration. I was on the plane recently and in the middle of the seats a jewish traveler suddenly was standing, having the orthodox outfit and started his prayer.... He seemed more than tolerated, after all he was practicing religion, praying to god... while muslim religion is not tolerated, and any traveler is immediately profilled and suspected. Shame.

we condemn to its deep

we condemn to its deep extent this highly inhuman and total discriminative act by US airways and other US officials. And we bycott to fly using US airways in our future journeys.

Who blew up three planes?

Who blew up three planes?

Extreme Muslims terrorized

Extreme Muslims terrorized the USA on 911. They want to kill Americans now. Don't even start with your racial profiling baloney. I am not saying that these guys were terrorists, but what I am saying is that these scholars should know better given the world situation we are all facing. Let's get real folks. I am so sick of hearing about this discrimination BS. The Muslims convert by the sword. Quit being deceptive in your beliefs. We all know what this religion (cult) is about. Quit thinking we are all naive. I don't give a rats ass if I offend any Muslims. Your religion is barbaric and inhumane. The news of Muslims boycotting US Airways is great news! I hope they boycott every US Airline, then every passenger would feel safer about flying. Hail US Airways!!!!

and no one was ever

and no one was ever slaughtered in the name of christianity?

I can only hope that this

I can only hope that this boycott happens and spreads to anyone not wishing to follow the rules of the airlinesBravo US Airways.keep up the good work.

We have to refuse to be

We have to refuse to be intimidated, if someone makes someone report them for weird behavior, then that person should be sued by the passengers for causing them distress with their behavior. These Imams were faking and goofing on the passengers, and were probably trying to get tossed off the plane just so they could play the victim card and go to court and make a scene. Any judge who allows this is garbage. absurd thought - God of the Universe says pretend to be terrorists scare people on a plane get thrown off claim racism .