November 21, 2006
The right to chant "Allahuakhbar!" on a crowded plane?
This story reeks of the slimiest sort of identity politics:
Six Muslim imams were removed from a US Airways flight at Minneapolis- St. Paul International Airport on Monday and questioned by police for several hours before being released, a leader of the group said.1.7 billion Muslims around the world feel the need to stand up and pray on planes?
Even heard of time place and manner? There's no right to stand and pray on a plane, or do anything else on a plane in such a way as to upset passengers.
The way CAIR is screaming about anti-Muslim bigotry is very suspicious, and I think this was probably a set up. A very despicable one at that.
"I never felt bad in my life like that," he said. "I never. Six imams. Six leaders in this country. Six scholars in handcuffs. It's terrible."Singling out Muslims? I'm sorry, but no one singled them out. When they stood on the plane in the middle of a flight, they singled themselves out.
Hooper said the meeting drew about 150 imams from all over the country, and that those attending included U.S. Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minneapolis, who just became the first Muslim elected to Congress. Shahin said they went as far as notifying police and the FBI about their meeting in advance.Ah, politics.
Democratic Party politics, perhaps?
Who is this Omar Shahin, the leader of the crackpots who provoked passengers by standing in flight? According to this translation of the "Arab Voice," he's the head of a Muslim Democratic PAC in Arizona:
Many leaders and community members of the Arabic community were invited to the Arkawi home including representatives from -- the multicultural business community, the press, al-Mehdi organization, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), the Arizona Islamic Political Action Committee, the Palestine committee, and a number of Arabs who belong to the Democratic party.There's more. According to the analysis by the moderate American Forum for Islamic Democracy at the above, Omar Shahin epitomizes the politicized Islamist movement within the Democratic Party:
A perception or an attempt to create one of a 'Muslim' voting bloc is the ultimate ideological weapon of the Islamist minority who wield their influence within the demagogy of political Islam. An empowered Islamist lobby propagates all the core maladies of political Islam which AIFD seeks to counter. The profound ideological danger of this toxic mixture of religion and politics in the Muslim community is the same regardless of party affiliations.I think the situation is appalling, and I don't think it speaks well for the Democratic Party.
Unless Democratic leaders distance themselves from these Islamist provocateurs, of course... If they do, I'll be sure to note it and update this post.
I don't know whether "provocateur" is too strong a word to describe Shahin, but I think it's also worth noting that in 2001 he was quoted in the Arizona Republic as saying that his mosque "may have helped" bin Laden, and that the 9/11 terrorists were not Muslims:
Omar Shahin of the Tucson Islamic Center said members of the Tucson mosque may have helped bin Laden in the early 1990s, when he was fighting against the Russians. But that was during the Cold War when U.S. intelligence agencies were encouraging support for bin Laden.No doubt Shahin and his ilk believe that criticism of them is anti-Islamic, or "culturally insensitive."
Sorry, but religion is not a license to act like a nut on a plane. If some crackpot Christian decided to stand up and pray and wave his arms in the air, I doubt anyone would take seriously a claim that it constituted "anti-Christian persecution" to stop him.
I think this was deliberately provocative behavior by activists.
I'm not surprised.
MORE: This reminds me of the deliberately provocative behavior which was a topic in the blogosphere in 2004. At the time, I was reminded of my own experience on a flight, and my later speculation that the whole thing had been a setup.
ANOTHER MEMORY FLASH: In 1975, I was a passenger on a bus in San Francisco, and another passenger, obviously agitated, stood up and yelled "JESUS CHRIST! ON THE CROSS! SAN FRANCISCO! 1975!" He was ejected, as he should have been. Religion is not a license to intimidate or frighten people. Passengers have a duty to other passengers to behave themselves.
I don't believe there should be an exception for kooks, provocateurs, or even Democratic PAC activists.
Where does anyone get the idea that it's OK to act like an asshole on a plane?
Or am I wrong? Is there some new rule that politically-connected "Muslims" have more right to disturb passengers than anyone else? If there is, identity politics has been carried too far.
MORE: Last year there was another incident which struck me as deliberately provocative praying at a football stadium in which George H. W. Bush was a spectator.
Hope it isn't a trend.
UPDATE: According to ScrappleFace, the airlines have reached an accomodation with Muslims who want to chant public prayers on planes:
"From now on, we devote our former first class sections to the use of our faithful, peaceful Muslim customers," said an unnamed airline industry spokesman. "Most of the time, when a group of Muslim men suddenly stands up on an airplane chanting 'Allahu Akbar', they're simply praying. Although the memories of 9/11 are still fresh in the minds of many Americans, if we're going to heal those wounds, we need to move beyond religious intolerance."Phew.
Glad the matter has been settled!
UPDATE (11/22/06): While Shahin and his group have announced a boycott, the Philadelphia Inquirer's report has additional information about other suspicious circumstances:
Witnesses said the men had prayed in the terminal and made critical comments about the Iraq war, according to the police report, and a US Airways manager said three of the men had only one-way tickets and no checked baggage.I think US Airways did the right thing, and quite frankly, I feel more confident about flying.
UPDATE (12/03/06): Richard Miniter (via Glenn Reynolds) has very convincing proof these "flying imams" were agents provocateur who acted like terrorists. Not only did they deliberately frighten passengers and crew, but they lied about being handcuffed. I guess my speculations proved right.
posted by Eric on 11.21.06 at 07:54 AM
Search the Site
Classics To Go
See more archives here
Old (Blogspot) archives
A knee sock jihad might be premature at this time
People Are Not Rational
No Biorobots For Japan
The Thorium Solution
Radiation Detector From A Digital Camera
This war of attrition is driving me bananas!
Attacking Christianity is one thing, but must they butcher geometry?
Are there trashy distinctions in freedom of expression?
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood