Behavior, not religion, led to Imams’ removal

December 2, 2006

Author: Don Mallicoat

Source: Citizen-Times

The AC-T editorial page of Nov. 26 quoted Omar Shahin, one of six Muslim Imams recently removed from a U.S. Air-ways flight in Minnesota: “In American we have no freedom to practice our faith, to do our faith.”

As I understand the news reports, these six men observed their daily prayers in the boarding area, passengers said they overheard anti-American comments, and they split up into unassigned seats when they boarded. One asked for a seatbelt extender even though he wasn’t obese. Three had one-way tickets and no checked baggage. A concerned passenger wrote a note to the flight attendant, the flight crew investigated, and the Imams were re-moved from the flight and detained for six hours. Somebody tell me, after Sept. 11, what other options could be expected?

Excuse my political incorrectness in advance. This isn’t about freedom to practice one’s faith. Nor is it ethnic profiling. It is behavior profiling. Their behavior, part of it associated with religion, raised red flags among passengers and the airline crew. For Shahin and all Muslims out there who are incensed and protest this incident I’ve got three words for you: get over it.

It wasn’t 80 year-old grandmothers, six year-old children or African-American men who perpetrated the heinous act of war on Sept. 11, 2001. It was 19 Middle Eastern Muslim men whose behavior went un-noticed by a nation at peace. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, etc. As a nation we are now vigilant for those who mean us harm. Muslims complain that we’re not sensitive to their religion. Did they ever think about our national sensitivity? We were attacked by Islamic terrorists of Arabic decent whose last words were “Allah Akbar.” God is Great. Considering our national sensitivity about Islamic terrorists, the Imams should have thought to refrain from anti-American comments. Maybe they should have gone somewhere else to pray. How about sitting in their assigned seats? It wasn’t religious intolerance that precipitated this event. It was behavioral intolerance, and rightly so.

If Shahin has lived in the U.S. any time he should know the phrase, “Those who sit in a glass house do wrong to throw stones.” How about the “tolerance” of some Middle Eastern Muslim nations toward Christianity and Judaism? I remember Army chaplains not being allowed to display a cross or carry a Bible outside in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. Let’s not forget the Taliban destroying ancient Buddhist artifacts in Afghanistan, or Muslims killing a nun in Somalia. Don’t preach to us about religious freedom.