(UPDATE: Fun comment string)
Six Muslim religious leaders were taken off a US Airways flight in Minneapolis on Monday evening and detained for several hours after some passengers and crew members complained of behavior they deemed suspicious, including prayers at the gate.
The incident prompted the Council on American-Islamic Relations and officials for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Washington to call Tuesday for Congressional hearings on racial profiling and an investigation by the Justice Department and the Transportation Security Administration.
Nihad Awad, executive director of the Islamic advocacy group, said this was hardly the first time Muslims had encountered problems with stereotyping by the airline. “We seem to have received more complaints against US Airways” than other carriers, Mr. Awad said in an interview. Those complaints have come from Muslim employees and passengers alike, he said.
Morgan Durrant, a US Airways spokesman, said the airline was investigating the episode. But he said the crew had acted in accordance with the company’s policy for removing passengers, though he declined to give specifics on the policy.
The six men detained, all imams, had attended a Minneapolis conference of the North American Imams Federation. They were handcuffed by the police and led off the flight, bound for Phoenix, after reports from passengers and crew members of “unsettling” behavior, according to a police report. One passenger had slipped a note to a flight attendant that began, “6 suspicious Arabic men on plane,” the report said.
So the gist is, with nothing more than a scribble on a scrap of paper, one dude was able to deny SIX others the chance to fly. Think about that the next time you are in the airport and some drunken frat boys are in line behind you or some jerk spills a drink on you in the airport bar or some adult with unruly, loud, disobedient children (or a colicky baby!) have the temerity to sit by you. Just pass the stewardess a note with your concerns over their suspicious behavior and voilá! Problem solved!
And if this whole thing offends you, think about this: the best way to punish the airlines for this kind of racist bullshit is to ruthlessly exploit it in your own favor, as frivolously and often as possible. Airplanes can't fly with empty planes and if everyone starts pointing at everyone else, they'll be forced to take a different tack.