Imams File Civil Rights
Suit against US Airways
Washington, DC: The
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) March 13 announced
that six imams, or Islamic religious leaders, removed from
a US Airways flight in Minneapolis last November have filed
a lawsuit against the airline and Minnesota's Metropolitan
Airports Commission alleging that their civil rights were
The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the
District of Minnesota, claims US Airways' alleged discriminatory
actions were based on the imams' "perceived race, religion,
color, ethnicity, alienage, ancestry, and/or national origin."
It goes on to state: "Because of Defendants' discriminatory
acts, Plaintiffs were denied the right to make and enforce
a contract, subjected to unlawful discrimination by a recipient
of federal financial assistance, denied equal treatment
in a place of public accommodation, and falsely arrested
and detained by law enforcement officers."
CAIR said the imams' legal complaint, which cites federal
statutes, the Minnesota Human Rights Act and Title VI of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, also alleges: "Defendants,
with the intent to cause harm to Plaintiffs' reputation,
maliciously, recklessly and without regard to their privacy
and integrity, defamed and made false reports against Plaintiffs
to justify their illegal action."
In documents filed with the court by the Law Firm of Omar
T. Mohammedi, the six imams refute many of the allegations
repeated in the media about the incident.
For example, in response to claims the imams made political
statements before boarding the plane, the complaint states:
"At no time did Plaintiffs discuss politics or refer
to Saddam Hussein or President Bush."
According to the complaint: "This civil rights lawsuit
is brought to ensure that the promise of equal treatment
embodied in federal and state anti-discrimination laws does
not become a meaningless guarantee for persons perceived
to be Muslim and/or Arab and/or Middle Eastern."
The imams are seeking compensatory and punitive damages,
and a legal injunction to prevent future unlawful discrimination
by US Airways.
To read the full complaint, go to:
"The decades-long movement to advance civil rights
in this nation must not be sent into retreat because of
post-9/11 fear and stereotyping," said CAIR Executive
Director Nihad Awad. "When anyone's rights are diminished,
the rights of all Americans are threatened."
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has
32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission
is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue,
protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build
coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.