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Twin Cities Airport Refusing to Appease

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Following the controversy over Muslim taxi drivers who refuse to carry passengers with alcohol or seeing-eye dogs, and the grievance theater of the six non-flying imams, Somali Muslims have demanded their own mosque at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

But airport authorities are not being good dhimmis: Twin Cities airport balks at offering Somalis own prayer room. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

MINNEAPOLIS - Somali refugees who want a place to pray at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport might have to share space with people of other religions, airport officials said Tuesday.

Airport Director Steve Wareham told Somalis gathered for a meeting that if the airport provides a special area for Muslims to use, it potentially would have to accommodate other faiths the same way. “Our request would be you try the quiet seating area,” he said.

The prayer debate was sparked Nov. 20 when six imams - Muslim religious leaders - were removed from an airplane after they had been seen praying in public. According to witnesses, the men also made anti-American remarks, asked for seat-belt extenders they didn’t need and spread out to different areas of the plane. The imams took another flight the next day.

Muslims criticized the treatment of the men, saying it was discriminatory, embarrassing and fueled by false rumors, while others praised the airline for taking the men off the plane, saying safety must come first in the post-Sept. 11 era.

Fuad Ali, who spoke at the meeting at the Darul Quba Mosque, said Somalis want a prayer room so they will not be faced with a similar incident. And he said they want their own room.

Where you have Christians and Muslims praying at the same time, it will create a problem,” he said.

And that’s not all, because those intolerant religious fanatic cab drivers may start having their licenses suspended: Airport cab drivers may have licenses suspended for refusing to carry fares.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport officials say too many cabdrivers are refusing to carry airport travelers, apparently due to religious beliefs.

So during a Wednesday meeting of the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s management and operations committee, officials suggested a heavy-fisted solution — drivers who refused such fares would have their airport licenses suspended.

Airport director Steve Wareham asked the committee to suggest to the full commission that they slate public hearings on whether to revise its taxi ordinance. The revision would suspend the airport license of any cabdriver refusing a passenger who is not life-threatening or intoxicated. Suspension would last 30 days on the first offense, and two years for each offense after that.

The committee unanimously approved the request for public hearings. The next meeting of the full commission is at 1 p.m. Jan 16 in the Commission’s chambers at the Lindbergh Terminal.

About three-quarters of the airport’s taxis are driven by Somalis, said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan; such drivers are commonly Muslim, and many believe their religion strictly forbids the transport of alcohol or dogs.

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