Paul  Weyrich

Perhaps you have heard of the "Flying Imams" lawsuit, brought on by an incident on U.S. Airways in November 2006. The lawsuit against U.S. Airways and the United States Government was filed by six Muslim clerics who claim discrimination because they were removed from their flight before take-off on account of "suspicious behavior" noted by both the flight crew and fellow passengers. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted co-conspirator in a separate trial recently brought by the United States Attorney General against terror front organizations, announced the imams' lawsuit earlier this year. The lawsuit originally included fellow passengers as defendants as well as U.S. Airways and the U.S. Government, although these passengers were removed after a public outcry.

U.S. Airways officials said the men's behavior included alleged anti-American statements, changing their seat assignments so that they would be scattered around the airplane, and asking for seat-belt extenders, which could be used as weapons.

Now comes news of two similar suspicious incidents. NBC San Diego recently reported that six Michigan men have filed a lawsuit against American Airlines, claiming they publicly were humiliated while being escorted from an aborted flight in San Diego. The six men, all Iraqi military contractors hired by the U.S. Army to teach Marines about Iraqi culture and etiquette, were returning to Detroit on August 28. The men were detained after a passenger heard them speaking Arabic, grew uncomfortable with their behavior and asked that she and her two children be removed from the flight. During their brief detention the men were questioned and released. There was no law enforcement officer involved, no one was imprisoned and no one was handcuffed. Yet one of the men is reported to have said that, "They treated me like a terrorist; I'm anything but a terrorist. We didn't do anything wrong, but they made everybody scared of us," according to NBC San Diego. The Detroit Free Press quoted another as saying they felt violated.

They are suing American Airlines for hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensatory damages for hours of detainment, interrogation, public humiliation and embarrassment.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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