Clerics' Airline Suit Brings Backlash

April 10, 2007

Author: Oren Dorel

Source: USA Today

When six Muslim clerics filed a lawsuit against US Airways claiming the airline infringed on their freedom to worship last fall, Rep. Pete King of New York and others saw something different — an attempt to intimidate airline passengers from reporting suspicious activity.

That's because the lawsuit named as defendants "John Does," unnamed passengers and airline workers whose reports of suspicious activity led to the removal of the six imams from the flight Nov. 20 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

"Since 9/11 we're asking ordinary citizens to be the eyes and ears for law enforcement," says King, whose district on Long Island lost more than 100 people in the terror attacks. "If they're afraid of coming forward because of fear of being sued, then it would be a huge victory for the terrorists."

King and other lawmakers are moving ahead with an attempt to ban such lawsuits over the objections of some Democrats and certain Muslim groups who say the suits may stop bigots from harassing law-abiding Muslims.