The Six Imams File Lawsuit Alleging Racial and Religious Discrimination

Posted on July 13, 2007


Source:  Aisha Aziz, Southern California Infocus

WASHINGTON – Six imams, who were removed from a U.S. Airways flight last year, have filed a lawsuit for racial and religious discrimination, unleashing a fresh outcry from right-wing bloggers, columnists, and media, who commented extensively against the imams when they were first de-planed in November.

Imam Ahmed Shqeirat, one of the six imams

Headlines such as “The Faking Imams,” and “How the imams terrorized an airliner,” have prompted online discussions in which the imams are being accused of suing innocent passengers and having links to terrorism. The U.S. House of Representatives even proposed legislation (HR 1401) to give immunity to “John Doe” airline passengers who report suspicious activity. Media reports also quoted fringe Muslims denouncing the imams’ actions.

Imam Omar Shahin, one of the six imams

However, the imams and their supporters have a different story.

They say these tactics point to growing politics and sentiments of fear, and how Islamophobia hysteria is manifesting itself in America’s social fabric. The real issue is one of racial profiling and civil liberties, they say.

“As Americans, we deserve security based on intelligence and evidence — not paranoia, false reporting, bigotry and witch hunts at 32,000 feet,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director at the national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which supports the imams’ lawsuit.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, lists U.S. Airways and Minnesota’s Metropolitan Airport Commission as defendants. It claims U.S. Airways’ alleged discriminatory actions were based on the imams’ “perceived race, religion, color, ethnicity, alienage, ancestry, and/or national origin.”

It goes on to state, “Because of Defendants’ discriminatory acts, Plaintiffs were denied the right to make and enforce a contract, subjected to unlawful discrimination by a recipient of federal financial assistance, denied equal treatment in a place of public accommodation, and falsely arrested and detained by law enforcement officers.” [more]

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Please see cartoons in the US press about the six imams incident.

1. Cartoon #1.
2. Cartoon #2.