Since Sunday, federal officials have been trying to force the frail, 80-year-old Zeinab Ashour on a plane back to her native Egypt.

Her son and civil rights activists say federal security employees at Detroit Metropolitan Airport tried to forcefully load her back on a flight to Cairo despite documentation from doctors that she should not fly due to several ailments, including “severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”

But on Thursday, after a federal lawsuit was filed and after the intercession of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, earlier in the week and inquiries from reporters, federal officials changed their minds.

“In lieu of all of the considerations, and her health, it was decided that she could stay and continue the process of applying for permanent resident status,” said James Michie, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The decision ends a five-day ordeal for the Egyptian woman which, Arab-American leaders say, is characteristic of the many problems facing people of Arab descent who fly back and forth from the Middle East. While readily admitting the need for increased security since the September 11 attacks, they said mistakes often occur and officials are often overzealous – even intolerant.

But Ashour’s case has a happy ending…


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