CAIR: 6 IMAMS REMOVED FROM FLIGHT FOR BEHAVIOR DEEMED SUSPICIOUS
Six Muslim religious leaders were taken off a US Airways flight in Minneapolis on Monday evening and detained for several hours after some passengers and crew members complained of behavior they deemed suspicious, including prayers at the gate.
The incident prompted the Council on American-Islamic Relations and officials for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Washington to call Tuesday for Congressional hearings on racial profiling and an investigation by the Justice Department and the Transportation Security Administration.
Nihad Awad, executive director of the Islamic advocacy group, said this was hardly the first time Muslims had encountered problems with stereotyping by the airline. "We seem to have received more complaints against US Airways" than other carriers, Mr. Awad said in an interview. Those complaints have come from Muslim employees and passengers alike, he said.
Morgan Durrant, a US Airways spokesman, said the airline was investigating the episode. But he said the crew had acted in accordance with the company's policy for removing passengers, though he declined to give specifics on the policy.
The six men detained, all imams, had attended a Minneapolis conference of the North American Imams Federation. They were handcuffed by the police and led off the flight, bound for Phoenix, after reports from passengers and crew members of "unsettling" behavior, according to a police report. One passenger had slipped a note to a flight attendant that began, "6 suspicious Arabic men on plane," the report said.
After being detained for five hours and questioned separately by federal agents, all six men were released, said Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
One of the six, Omar Ahmad Shahin of Phoenix, said he had been questioned for less than a half-hour. "This is the humiliation," said Dr. Shahin, 45. "They found nothing. They found we had a good relation with everybody."