Passengers Claimed Men Acted Suspiciously
move few would call surprising, six Islamic imams who were removed
from a US Airways flight late last year for suspicious behavior,
and allegedly making anti-American comments, are suing the airline
As Aero-News reported, the
religious leaders were returning from a conference in
Minneapolis-St. Paul in November when they were taken off the
plane, handcuffed, and questioned by authorities. Several
passengers claimed the men had prayed loudly before the flight, and
after boarding demanded to change seats and asked for safety-belt
extensions, which they then reportedly placed under their
The six were eventually let go. The Associated Press reports
when the men returned to the airport the following day, they claim
the airline refunded their money, but refused to book them on
another US Airways flight.
The imams are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and a
legal injunction to prevent future unlawful discrimination by US
In a statement released Monday, US Airways says it hasn't seen
the lawsuit... but the carrier maintains its original position that
its employees "acted appropriately, and we continue to back the
actions of our crew and ground employees in this case."
The incident caused a furor throughout America's Muslim
population. The Muslim Public Affairs Council complained to the
Department of Transportation, and the Homeland Security
Department's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties said it
would investigate the matter.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said passengers and
crewmembers onboard the flight "succumbed to fear and prejudice
based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam." The men deny making
any threatening gestures or actions.
"This civil rights lawsuit is brought to ensure that the promise
of equal treatment embodied in federal and state
anti-discrimination laws does not become a meaningless guarantee
for persons perceived to be Muslim and/or Arab and/or Middle
Eastern," CAIR said in a statement released Tuesday.