Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Flying While Muslim

If you Google the newly ubiquitous phrase "Flying While Muslim", you will get a wide swath of curious links all sharing one thing in common - their phobia. Some guide apprehensive and fearful Americans, who happen to be Muslim, offering advice on how to get through airport procedures without being pulled aside or even arrested for the crime of "Flying While Muslim".

Other links take you to sites filled with various degrees of Muslim bashing and outright racism. Such misanthropes have latched on to Muslims as the object of their hate-filled phobias. Still others cry out in well-founded indignation against the racist trajectory which is once again rearing its ugly head in this country. I even found a few movie and other artistic projects focusing on the sorry phenomenon which has become a constructed reality in the US since the disaster of 9/11. Overall, my query yielded 10,000 hits.

As we get ready on Thursday to be thankful for the many blessings of our lives including this great nation, many Muslims in the US are continuously reminded that being American for them carries another burden. Many came to this country to escape discrimination and lack of civil liberties in their land of birth, only to face it in their adopted land. The irony of their predicament is especially palpable. However, most American Muslims were born here and for them this is their homeland; they know nor want any other.

Yet, does America want them? Unfortunately, no Mayflower can carry those unwanted, discriminated against to newly discovered continents. This is it..... a reality we should all accept... or better yet, embrace, for our collective benefit.

We may not be a melting pot, but can we at least be a healthy tossed salad (hold the nuts)?

Unfortunately, for 6 American Muslim imams (clerics), Thanksgiving may be the last sentiment they feel today. It would appear that US Airways succumbed to the racist phobias of one of its passengers and pulled these 6 men off a flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix yesterday. To add insult to injury, the 6 men were then handcuffed and arrested by the police and detained for hours. Their crime: Flying while Muslim. They were later released and, if you can believe it, today when they tried to catch another flight to Phoenix, US Airways refused to sell them tickets!

I really don't understand what is going on here. Has racism cloaked in stubborn idiocy triumphed in America? Has rule of law and the bill of rights become faith-contingent? I ask these ridiculous questions hoping that, in fact, they are ridiculous.

Yet, what is really disturbing about this hideous event is the behavior of the police. On what basis were these men denied their civil liberties, humiliated, arrested and detained? On the basis of the fears of one ignorant woman on the flight who heard the men praying and decided that was an expression of "anti-American sentiment"? Is that how we treat our citizens?

On the other hand, is such behavior surprising in view of our government's blow-by-blow abrogation of basic civil liberties starting with suspending habeas corpus and trial by jury, unauthorized wire-tapping, and detainment without charges?

Well, we should be thankful because according to the Washington Post:
"The Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties said it has opened an investigation.

US Airways Group Inc. issued a statement saying that it is interviewing crew members and ground workers about what happened."

I am sure that will go far towards winning the hearts and minds abroad .... and healing at home.

So, as we sit down to our turkey tomorrow, let's think twice before passing on the salad.

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Anonymous SAURON said...

The Bill of Rights in U.S. Constitution was not a suicide pact.
140 other Muslims left Minnesota that day with no problem.
Hearing the same prayers that were used by 19 Muslims on the 9/11 flights beforehand is a provacative issue.
Also, the calling of a boycott of U.S. Airways by all Muslims will make the airline preferred by many more Americans. With a pending takeover by Delta, this may be an economic boon to U.S. Airways...

9:11 AM  
Blogger Dahlia said...

Sauron, you miss the point. What is at issue here is the concept of guilt by association. As for the number of Muslims who left with no problem - the fact that there is a count speaks volumes in and of itself. The violation of one individual's civil rights is one too many. That is what America stands for and that is what we should demand.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Maryam doesn't usually answer comments, because she just had a baby, works and does political activism.

I wrote her a letter, telling her to comment on your post.

She has a TV show from London. It wouldn't surprise me if she talked about your comment on her TV show.

At Maryam's blog, catch her post below the top one.


3:52 PM  
Blogger Dahlia said...

Thanks RE!

4:11 PM  

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