OH: FLYING WHILE MUSLIM
Muslims say when booking a flight, they feel everyone is watching them. Recently six Muslim Imams were removed from a flight in Minneapolis, sparking the national debate: is there such an issue as “flying while Muslim”, racially profiling Muslims after 9-11, or is it just prudent?
Toledo area Muslims are aware of the controversy and many say they are deeply offended by it.
Here is what happened: six Imams were traveling from the Minneapolis – St. Paul airport. Police say the men where praying in the airport terminal. Some witnesses said they were praying loudly. Passengers became concerned with the repeated use of the word “Allah” during the prayers. Allah is the Arabic word for God and is always recited in prayers.
In addition, passengers became alarmed with the men’s seating arrangements, requests by two for seatbelt extensions and alleged discussions about the U.S. involvement in the Iraq war. Passengers reported this as “suspicious behavior”. The Imams were then detained, questioned and banned from U.S. Airways flights. So did the passengers over react?
“In this situation, absolutely, they falsely reported.” Dr. Zaheer Hasan from Islamic Center of Greater Toledo says flying as a Muslim is disheartening. “As I board a plane, I see all the eyes tracking me. I see numerous visits by the airline crew. It affects me, but I can bear that.”
There comes the time and the place, as some Imams endured, that it is too much.
Nadeem Salem says he is always singled out for random security checks when he flies.
“There is something underneath that is driving this that is really disturbing. I do believe it is racial profiling.”