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 violated.
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:
http://www.cair.com/pdf/usairwayscomplaint.pdf
"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.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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