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Home » Huffington Post

Muslim Leaders Kicked Off Flight

By RANDALL DICKERSON

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two Muslim religious leaders say they were removed from a commercial airliner in Memphis on Friday and were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard.

Masudur Rahman, who is also an adjunct instructor of Arabic at the University of Memphis, said by telephone from the terminal at Memphis International Airport that he and another imam had already been allowed to board their Delta Connection flight to Charlotte, N.C., before they were asked to de-board.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jon Allen in Atlanta confirmed the incident and said it was not initiated by that agency.

A Delta Air Lines spokeswoman said the flight was operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which is also based in Atlanta. ASA didn’t immediately respond to telephone calls seeking comment.

Rahman said he was dressed in traditional Indian clothing and his traveling companion was dressed in Arab garb, including traditional headgear.

Rahman said he and Mohamed Zaghloul, of the Islamic Association of Greater Memphis, were cleared by security agents and boarded the plane for an 8:40 a.m. departure.

The aircraft pulled away from the gate, but the pilot then announced the plane must return, Rahman said. When it did, the imams were asked to go back to the boarding gate where Rahman said they were told the pilot was refusing to accept them because some other passengers could be uncomfortable.

Rahman said Delta officials talked with the pilot for more than a half-hour, but he still refused.

The men were taken to a lounge and booked on a later flight.

They called the Council on Islamic-American Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

“It’s racism and bias because of our religion and appearance and because of misinformation about our religion.” Rahman said. “If they understood Islam, they wouldn’t do this.”

He said a Delta manager apologized for the pilot’s actions, but that he and Zaghloul never spoke directly with the pilot.

Ibrahim Hooper, of the Islamic-American organization, said the group will follow up with the airline and with the TSA to help ensure such incidents do not continue to occur.

Hooper said airline officials at Memphis tried to resolve the situation, but the pilot refused.

Original post: Muslim Leaders Kicked Off Flight

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20 Comments »

  1. Idiocy, at its worst.

    How about a pilot say, “I flat-out refuse to fly this plane with Muslims on it” escort his (or her) behind off of the plane and get a non-bigoted pilot on the plane to fly it to its scheduled destination?

    And people get upset about Muslim cab drivers not allowing drunks and filthy behavior in their cabs?

    Double standard accusation isn’t even applicable here. The pilot has little to no contact with their passengers. The pilots of planes don’t even clean-up after their passengers have deplaned. The same cannot be said of cab drivers and their passengers. The passenger of the cab is right behind the driver, only visible in a rear view mirror that is designed for seeing out of the rear window of the cab.

    I feel for cab drivers who tolerate the rude, even vile behaviors of some of their passengers.

    It was NOT as if the person avoided a security screening and found their way onto the plane! But for the pilot to NOT fly a plane apparently because of a person’s faith is absolutely stupid and intolerable and the airline industry should have a ZERO TOLERANCE level for that form of discrimination.

  2. Given the state of mind of both moslems and civilized people (ie; infidel non-believers of islam),I am in sympathy with the pilot as I too do not trust anyone who proclaims him or her- self to be a follower of Islam;frankly they scare me with their extreme radicalism.I did not have this fear before 9-11 !

  3. d morrison:

    What you’ve just described is called Islamaphobia, an irrational fear of Islam and anything related to it. It is (or it should be) illegal for a pilot to have a paying passenger who has no weapons on their person put off of a plane.

    Btw, an infidel is one who does not believe in God. Too often, people foolishly claim that Muslims consider everyone else to infidels. Not many bigger lies have been told than this.

    Finally, if you live in the U.S., the Muslims in YOUR country and civilized people are one & the same! You have heard of Muslim Americans, haven’t you? Or do you actually live under a rock….in the bowels of a cave….on the dark side of the moon??!!

  4. Deuce, Fear is not always rational and it can fester. Regardless of how dumb you may think the fear is others do not have the experiences you have had. You apparently are a Muslim and you know your mind and perhaps the mind of other Muslims. People who are not Muslim, get their news from papers, the internet, and possibly life experiences. It would not take me to long of reading more sites like “The Islamic Thinkers Society” to make me wary of Muslims. One can argue about the violence of Christians or Jews or whomever but let us face it we do not see headlines such as “Christian Group kills 100 people in a bomb attack” or “12 year old Christian in a suicide vest kills 30 people” “Jewish Rabbi guns down 20 people at local Mosque”. When you do hear “Christian Extremist guns down Abortion Doctor” you do not see pieces in the paper stating “Local Pastor calls abortion shooter a Martyr-states gods will has been done.”

    Being scared will cause people to discriminate: demanding your right to dress traditionally in a time when people are scared of fundamentalists will make a scared person even more likely to discriminate. It is not fair but it is the way that it is. I am willing to bet this same pilot has flown dozens if not hundreds of Muslims not dressed in traditional gear, but given the death of mass murderer Bin Laden along with the fact that many Muslims consider this bigot a martyr, people have a right to worry about retribution. Maybe this guy does not need to fly planes then again maybe the Muslims involved could have been more sensitive and dressed differently so as to make people more comfortable. The problem with incidents like this is that they are staged by people who want someone to say something to them. These are 2 intelligent men that knew they would draw a reaction from someone based upon the way they were dressed and they wanted to push the issue and thus the story.

  5. DP,
    I hate to tell you this but I believe more people in the United States are on to the threat of Islam. Stories like this make my day. Call me a religious bigot or call me anything you want, I will go to my grave believing that Islam is wrong.

    The murdering of innocent people in the name of Islam is happening on a daily basis in Taiwan, Nigeria and the Middle East, just to name a few. Quite frankly I am (and obviously the pilot of this plane) sick of it. If you want to live under the rule of Islam and propel yourself back into the dark ages then fine. Just not in the United States.

    We are on to you and your minions and we are not fooled.

  6. Well if people killing others in the name of their god, wouldn’t that mean that Christianity is way more evil than Islam, considering the history?

  7. DeucePrez,

    How surprised are you to find out you have ‘minions’? LOL

    Seriously, bigotry would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

  8. idiots on board, a fitting name. Unfortunately, there is no threat of islam any more than there is a threat of aliens or a threat of satanic devil children raised on pokemon and britney spears. Every day there are people killed in the name of islam, yes, but what of the people who kill based on the color of your skin, the color of the clothes you wear, the very language you speak? Islam does terrorism no more than israelis murder hundreds for the actions of one on a few or christian fundamentalists desecrate mosques and restrict access to education and knowledge. Islam Is no more wrong than masonry is, or sikhism, or rastafarianism, or any other ism apart from racism and sexism. Your very way of thought is reminiscent of the dark ages. I bid you a good day, and may the truth set you free.

  9. Criley, if I had more time, I would direct you to the dozens of Christian Extremist websites and publishings, I would also inform you of the 28 year-old U.S national that stoned a 70 year-old gay man to death because of the bible, oh… wait… I just did. I would also like to inform you that, yes, although all fears possess a realistic basis, the basis for Islamophobia was born because of the actions of extremists. I can agree that extremists exist within Islam, they do in all other Abrahamaic religions. I recommend you read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, that will give you an image of a Christian Theocracy.

    Idiotsonboard, I would like to inform you that during the dark ages, the only civilized group of people to have contact with the West were indeed the Muslims. Within the Emirate of Cordoba, Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived in peace.

    Islam is not a corruption, Islam is not evil, it is the fools, maniacs, and uneducated imbeciles that interpret Islam in a ridiculous way that are evil.

    D. Morrison, as Joe stated, bigotry would be amusing were it not so frightening and tragic. Less than 5% of Islam possess the mindset which you described. Also, Radicalism is defined as a desire for extreme progress, extremist Muslims,and all other fundamentalists, for that matter, should be described as reactionaries.

    I believe that one reason as to why Islam is, unfortunately at the forefront, it seems, of religious extremism, is because of the deplorable living conditions in many predominantly Islamic nations, as I previously stated, a thousand years ago, when Christian Europe lived under a superstitious and brutal theocracy, Muslim Spain was a beacon of peace and tolerance.

    Please, refrain from making idiotic and basely incorrect comments, at least educate yourself.

  10. How much this saddens me. I am not Muslim, but if I were, I would hope to be judged by my actions, just as I assume everyone else, believer or non-believer of anything, would want and expect, in a country that calls itself civilized and free. I do not assume, nor should anyone, that DeucePrez or Joe are Muslim. What I do assume is that those who are so frightened of Islam know very little about it, and have had no personal experience with actual Muslims. It is this ignorance which permits the fear to grow. And I mean “ignorance” in its original meaning, which is “to not know something” for it is the lack of knowledge that causes us to be so very afraid. Sadly, the fear is real, and has actual, hurtful consequences to innocent people, just trying to make their way through life, doing what good they can, raising their families and building their communities. We really need to listen to one another–please give each other the benefit of the doubt–try to put yourself in the shoes of the person with whom you disagree. Honestly, we are all trying to get through life, understanding the world the best we can. Let us try and grant that people who don’t share our background and/or faith can still be on the same side as we are–don’t assume that if someone else succeeds it necessarily diminishes what you have. We must all go forward together or else we tear everything apart. I, personally, have never met a Muslim, man or woman, who frightened me at all, and that is true of 99% of the people we meet, no matter what their beliefs. It is a tiny minority of all faiths (and the faithless) who are the scary ones. Let’s be smarter in how we identify the risks we run.

  11. And to Criley401, would you really ask a nun not to wear her habit because someone was a victim of abuse by a Catholic clergyman? Would you ask a Muslim woman not to cover her hair, which is a sign of respect for God, because once you see she is Muslim, you get uncomfortable? What about the lovely, traditional sari that many Hindu women wear? What about the clerical collar that priests wear? I don’t think that people who are not bothering anyone need to modify their every move just because someone, somewhere, may be overly sensitive.

  12. Sandra, I do not ask anyone to do, wear, or not wear anything I simply stated, what to me, seems an obvious fact. If groups of Catholic Nuns were out killing people I would tell the catholic nuns not killing people that maybe you should not go out in full dress. They could wear what they want but the reactions they would get would be predictable. A group of skinheads could dress in their colors and take a plane ride, they have a right to do so but I am sure some people would react to them. Everyone has rights, if you choose to exercise every right you have regardless of circumstance then you need to be prepared for the consequences of your decision. These Arab men can wear what they want but to expect people not to be nervous or react when they do so shows a poor understanding of human nature. I reassert that these 2 Muslim Men do understand human nature and they knew the way they dressed would cause a stir and that they were looking for such a confrontation.

    As to Juan’s assertion that there are many radical Christians, I agree but; The 70 year old man was stoned to death by a young friend who was in control of the man’s money and executer of his estate. His excuse would not be used by any Christian because it is an old testament example and Jesus ushered in new ways to handle various issues found within the New Testament. Juan I challenge you to find Christians, who do not live in Africa, and are a part of a recognized Christian group out in the world committing terrorist acts resulting in death in the name of Christianity. Do not go looking for the odd Christian who goes out to kill an abortion doctor or blows up a clinic. Show me that suicide Christian bomber killing in the name of Jesus, Show me that group of Christian Martyrs blowing up the middle of a town in the name of Jesus. Show me the Christian Schools devoted to Christian learning and the extermination of any group of people. Show me the Christian organizations that call the people who commit these acts Martyrs and describes the dead Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ. I would really like to know which of these organizations are funded by various Christian churches and charities. I say let us get this world wide Christian Conspiracy into the open and expose these Christian Crusaders.

  13. I’m actually pleased to see that in my absence, other truthful people of good conscience have addressed the points punned by some apparently uninformed Islamaphobes.

    While it may be a shock to the unlearned, when non-Muslims commit the same crimes a Muslim commits, their religion is not dragged through the mud and blamed for their non-(fill in the religion) misdeed(s). So, no….you don’t read headlines that say, “Christian/Jewish terrorist“, but if they treated everyone the same, you could see the same headlines for non-Islamic faiths. Of course we know life isn’t about “being fair“.

    C. Riley: I know nothing about the organization you mentioned. Yes, I am a Muslim, but I made my shahadah to Allah, not that aforementioned organization (it has no bearing on me being a Muslim — one who submits their will to do the will of God). Also, you’re severely misinformed. Many of the abortion clinic bombers & those who support them claim to be Christians.

    Oh…! Does the pilot double as a “fashion police??” These men were appropriately dressed (all private parts well covered) and they passed all security screening. There was no reason to put them off of the plane; only one lame excuse: Islamaphobia (which is primarily based on ignorance, bigotry & fear). Can a Muslim pilot have scantily clan women thrown off of a plane because they’re, apparently, not Muslims? Prayerfully not! That would be as equally unjustified! Sure, people can be nervous, based on their ignorance, bigotry, racism, etc. We don’t expect everyone to be open-minded. After all, this IS still America and racism is still alive & well….unfortunately. But once a person is cleared by security, then, they’re nervousness is based upon what, exactly??

    To the idiot that’s “on-board” (?): get off of my jock! You’re an idiot, by you own admission, so I won’t waste much time with you…. because you’re an idiot. Why would I want to waste ANY time trying to convince an self-proclaimed idiot to change their mind from wrong to right. Continue doing you: being an idiot.

  14. Shame on those two pilots and those people that allowed it to happened.I am a christian that likes to wear any garb on my head and just anything that suit my taste are they going to remove me from the plane ’cause they are scared of what I wear not knowing who I am and what I do?This is getting out of hand .This people are ignorant and racist.

  15. I agree with Deuce. Criley, people can dress how they feel most comfortable dressing. I wouldn’t begrudge a man in traditional Arab garb anymore than I would a man in a business suit (in my experience, men in business suits are more dangerous :P). I doubt the men set out to maliciously cause a reaction or get a story into the press, though. Don’t you think that’s being a bit paranoid on your part, hmm?

    The story doesn’t really mention it, but they were actually going to Charlotte for a conference on dealing with Islamophobia. I know that, because the Imam at my local Mosque went to the same conference, though, alhamdulilah, he didn’t run into this level of prejudice when he boarded his plane (he always dresses in traditional Arab garb, as well).

    Honestly, it’s nothing short of upsetting that this occurred, and it would be nothing short of upsetting if it happened to anyone, because this is America, and one would hope we’re above that.

    I have a question… How did the Islamophobes who commented on this article even arrive at this article? Seriously, isn’t this website devoted to fighting Islamophobia? Do you really have that much bile and ichor build up that you actively troll an anti-Islamophobia site? Just wondering.

    Salam.

  16. to the learned muslims who have commented.

    i have asked several times weather or not modern muslims think the opening of the 24th surah is good law? duece, boostava, jaun what do you think?

  17. dueceprez,

    so we are all clear. “Btw, an infidel is one who does not believe in God. Too often, people foolishly claim that Muslims consider everyone else to infidels. Not many bigger lies have been told than this.”

    what is an infidel? hindus, shinto, buddist, animists, agnostics, atheists are all infidels?

  18. Boost I am not sure if your including me in your statement as to why I would write on this site but I find that I enjoy reading this site so as to get a better understanding of what people think. Time and time again I have stated that I agree that people do have rights and I would stand with anyone including Muslims to protect them. This includes the right to dress as you choose so long as you do not violate nudity laws. Those men have a perfect right to dress in any way they choose, my statement was that if you choose to leverage every right in every circumstance then expect negative reactions to occur. That preacher had a right to burn the Koran in the same way the Islamic Thinkers Society has a right to burn, stomp, and shred the American Flag. The preacher got a negative reaction as did the Islamic Thinkers Society. The dress is not as confrontational but given the timing they had to know ( I give them credit for being very intelligent given their positions) it could cause problems. They could have chosen differently but they did not, as is their right. If I said anything Islamophobic I want to know what it is.

    I did ask for examples of Christian Terrorist groups as people keep bringing up how violent Christians are. It was not in reference to show superiority but to demonstrate that people have a right to be afraid and the fear they experience is not necessarily Islamophobic but rational fears based upon what they see in the news and read in the papers. It is not pretty but Islamic Terrorists make sure everyone knows they are Islamic. They make sure that everyone sees them cutting off heads, blowing up buildings, and force us to watch as they kill hundreds of people. They want to instill fear and they are successful. They want the fear to be centered on being afraid of Muslims and if we do not do what they say they(change policies) will continue to kill more and more people. These Terrorists have their wish; people are scared. Yet other Muslims, want to just tell people their fears are not founded in reality and they should not be scared, and demand to exercise their rights not to make any changes, though they be temporary, to make people feel more comfortable. Example: not dressing in traditional clothes within a week that a major terrorist is killed and everyone is looking out for retaliation. Yes you have your right to dress any way you choose but is it always wise to do so? To get anywhere you first have to admit the fears are valid. Then you have to take steps to ease the fears even as other terrorists events take place. If everything people say or do Insults you and you simply start name calling or forcing public apologies then you will get no where.

  19. Mike, I myself am not a Muslim, I am a Catholic-born and raised Naturalistic/Humanistic Atheist, but I possess tolerance for all religions that are not inherently evil, and I can assure you, Islam is NOT evil.

    As far as the definition of an infidel in Islam goes, I am not qualified to provide one.

  20. juan,

    thanks for your response. i agree that islam is not evil. i just think there are some bad (religious) laws within it. i was born catholic as well, but after 12 years of catholic school and learning catholic doctrine i became agnostic.

    as for your 5% number, if that is true, that is scary. i think there are at least a billion muslims in the world, that would make 50 million nuts.

    i guess we’ll have to wait and see if the hindus kill anyone for them being offended?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13347763

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