The Department of Homeland Security is facing a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union over the treatment of a passenger at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the days after a major terrorism alert.

The passenger, who was born in Iraq, was forced to cover up Arabic script on his T-shirt before he was permitted to board a JetBlue flight last year, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan yesterday.

The lawsuit could clarify the limits of the discretion of airline and law enforcement officials to refuse to allow customers to fly. The issue also is being litigated in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn., where six Muslim imams claim they were arrested and removed from an America West flight for praying in public before boarding.

In the New York case, the passenger, Raed Jarrar, was finally permitted to board his flight to Oakland, but only after he consented to wearing a different T-shirt, one purchased for him at an airport gift shop by a JetBlue employee, the complaint says.

Mr. Jarrar’s original T-shirt bore a slogan, “We Will Not Be Silent,” in both English and Arabic. The slogan was first used by an anti-Nazi student group in Germany, the complaint said.


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