Claiming they were unfairly profiled, a group of Michigan Muslims said today that they were not allowed to board a flight to Detroit while returning home from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

At a press conference this morning at a mosque in Dearborn, the group said they were unfairly treated because of their religion and background.

On Jan. 7, a group of Muslims who were largely Lebanese-American Shi’ites had landed in Germany and were going to take a connecting flight to Detroit. Northwest allowed some of them on the flight, but barred about 40 of them, the pilgrims said.

“Probably they were afraid of 40 Muslims on one flight,” said Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini, head of the Islamic Center of America, a Shi’ite mosque in Dearborn.

Al-Qazwini, who was part of the group, said that he and other Muslims have had profiling problems before with Northwest Airlines.

Northwest officials, though, maintain that the passengers were not allowed on the flight because they were late.

The conference was organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim group that said it will represent the group of Muslims in any possible legal action against Northwest. The committee has been active in recent months in fighting what they see as profiling of Muslims by airlines.

Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the committee, said the returning pilgrims were “denied passage for no legitimate reason.”


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