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Minneapolis Airport Incident Update

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The incident we reported last night, in which 6 Muslim men were removed from a plane at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, seems to have been a false alarm—and the Council on American Islamic Relations is right there, seething and complaining of prejudice: 6 Muslim Imams Removed From Plane, Group Was Saying Evening Prayers Prior To Boarding Plane In Minneapolis.

(AP) The Council on American-Islamic Relations called Tuesday for an investigation into the behavior of airline staff and airport security in the removal of six Muslim scholars from a US Airways flight a day earlier.

A passenger raised concerns about the imams — three of whom said their normal evening prayers in the airport terminal before boarding the Phoenix-bound plane, according to one — through a note passed to a flight attendant, according to Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for US Airways.

“We are concerned that crew members, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam,” Nihad Awad, the council’s executive director, said in a news release.

The six were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, said Omar Shahin of Phoenix, president of the group. “They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way,” Shahin said after the incident.

Shahin said Tuesday that three members of the group prayed in the terminal before the six boarded the plane. They entered individually, except for one member who is blind and needed to be guided, Shahin said. Once on the plane, the six did not sit together, he said. …

Police were called after the captain and airport security workers asked the men to leave the plane and the men refused, Rader said. Shahin said no one asked the six to leave until police arrived, when the group complied.

“Unfortunately, this is a growing problem of singling out Muslims or people perceived to be Muslims at airports, and it’s one that we’ve been addressing for some time,” council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

Hooper said the meeting drew about 150 imams from all over the country, and that those attending included Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., 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.

Shahin expressed frustration that — despite extensive efforts by him and other Muslim leaders since even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — so many Americans know so little about Islam. “If up to now they don’t know about prayers, this is a real problem,” he said.

Why in the world would Americans be suspicious of Muslims loudly, publicly praying on airplanes? Go figure.

Lileks has an interesting note:

According to the TV, the men said they were in town for “a religious conference.” Interesting. I was talking today with a guy I know; he’d been at a suburban hotel for an annual company sales meeting. The regional manager was having a difficult time speaking, since the party in the next conference room was praying about as loudly as is humanly possible, and had followed the prayers with a speaker who expressed in rather … forceful terms the depth of Muslim oppression in America. Unless there are several Muslim religious conferences going on in Minneapolis at the moment, I’d guess that might be the one. If so, I wonder if the reported truculence of the men might have been influenced, or at least reinforced, by the speaker. Whoever he was.

Ellison?

UPDATE at 11/21/06 8:49:01 am:

Omar Shahin, spokesman for the humiliated imams, is affiliated with Kind Hearts for Charitable Human Development…

Muslim Voice Staff - When the Tsunami disaster struck Muslim families in south East Asia, the students of Arizona Culture Academy answered the call and rushed to help. They emptied their piggy banks, brought their allowances, and lobbied their families to participate. In five days, $8,014.00 was collected and given to the Representative Imam Omar Shahin of the Kind Hearts Organization.

a Hamas-linked organization whose assets were frozen by the Treasury Department earlier this year. (Hat tip: Aaron.)

KindHearts officials and fundraisers have coordinated with Hamas leaders and made contributions to Hamas-affiliated organizations. Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) Usama Hamdan, a leader of Hamas in Lebanon, reportedly phoned a top fundraiser for KindHearts during a September 2003 KindHearts fundraiser. During the call, Hamas leader Hamdan reportedly communicated to the fundraiser his gratitude for KindHearts’ support. The KindHearts fundraiser reportedly also provided advice to Hamdan, telling him not to trust the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

More about KindHearts and their terrorist connections, at Internet Haganah.

UPDATE at 11/21/06 12:42:47 pm:

Omar Shahin is also on record expressing doubt that Muslims were behind the 9/11 attacks, and admitting ties to Osama bin Laden.

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 Frank says:

Here I stand hoping against hope that it's a chick with a low voice. -- At a concert in Beloit, Wisconsin 1968 or 69, when a guy in the audience yelled out, "Eat me Zappa".