Racial profiling has finally hit home for me. One of my closest friends from college, Usmaan Ahmad, a graduate of Washington University and a student at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University, was escorted off of an American Airlines plane because of his appearance (Nov. 24 news article).
It enrages and saddens me that our country, a nation founded on the bedrock of civil liberties and freedoms, is now succumbing to the greatest form of terrorism, which is ignorance. How are we to combat terrorism at its root if we perform acts of terror on our peaceful citizens?
What did Usmaan do aside from being Muslim? Did he not pass through the security checkpoint? Were his bags not conforming to FAA standards?
Usmaan attends the best diplomacy school that our nation has to offer. For years, he has been directly involved in human rights struggles in East Timor, Tibet and Kashmir -- regions that we in our charmed lives fail to consider.
"Safety concerns" were the rationale for throwing him off the flight. Even though he may have been embarrassed by this, as his friend and brother, I promise you that he will continue to struggle for the betterment of humankind and that the flight attendant who threw him off will, one day, be ashamed of her blatantly racist, ignorant and un-American gestures.
Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar
Midwest Communications Director
Council on American-Islamic Relations