In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CAIR CALLS FOR PROBE INTO DETENTION OF IMAMS IN MINNESOTA
Religious leaders handcuffed, ‘humiliated’ during US Airways incident
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/21/06) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called for an investigation into the actions of security personnel and US Airways crew members during an incident in Minnesota in which six Imams, or Islamic religious leaders, were taken off a flight at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport because of “suspicious activity.”
[CAIR’s Arizona office will hold a news conference Tuesday morning in Phoenix in reaction to the incident. When: 9:30 a.m. (local time), Where: CAIR-AZ Office, 202 E. McDowell Rd., Suite 165, Phoenix, AZ, Contact: CAIR-AZ Civil Rights Director Mohammed AbuHannoud, 602-460-9987]
The Imams, who were questioned Monday evening by authorities and then released, told CAIR that they were removed from the US Airways flight “for no reason” and were “humiliated” by being handcuffed and taken off the plane in the view of other passengers. They suspect the “suspicious activity” cited by authorities was the performance of normal evening prayers offered by members of the group.
The detained Imams also denied media reports that they refused to leave the plane or that they chanted “Allah” as they were escorted from the flight.
US Airways is now reportedly refusing to allow the Imams to take another flight.
All of the detained Imams, several of whom are from Arizona, were in Minnesota to attend a conference of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF). A representative of the FBI was invited to attend the conference.
“We are concerned that crew members, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “We call on relevant authorities to investigate whether proper procedures were followed by security personnel and members of the US Airways flight crew.”
Awad added that public prayer is not a threat to safety or security and should not be viewed as suspicious or criminal activity.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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