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FOX Big Story piece on "Flying while Muslim" includes allegations of "shakedown" by ousted Imams

Reported by Chrish - December 13, 2006 -

A segment on John Gibson's "Big Story" today 12/13/06 included a report by Catherine Herridge on developments in the case involving US Airways and six Imams bounced from their flight (November 20) after another passenger voiced fears. CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is representing the imams as they pursue legal recourse for the actions of US Airways, which Herridge editorialized "has all the earmarks of a shakedown."

Gibson said that CAIR is encouraging Muslim-Americans to file civil rights complaints if they feel they have been unfairly targeted and they are offering a toll-free hot-line.

Herridge, after introducing her report by saying it has all the earmarks of a shakedown, went on to say that US Airways "reached out" to the Imams but that talks broke down when the men decided to seek legal representation. A statement from the airline said a meeting has not yet been set up; any discussion of a settlement is extremely premature at this point. They continue to back the actions of the crew and ground employees.

CAIR, as Gibson mentioned, has set up a hot-line for Muslims who think they have been singled out at airports because of their race or religion. A CAIR spokesman told FOX that they are "seeking some kind of resolution from US Airways." He would not rule out a financial settlement but said none had been reached yet.

Gibson asked/insinuated if the entire incident was a set-up - did the imams provoke the airlines in order to raise this issue? Herridge said she had not gotten that impression from her discussions; what she was told was that they have to rely on the crew or, in this case, the passengers, to report anything they think is suspicious. The airline doesn't think they were unfairly targeted, and they "don't like the idea of an out of court settlement in this case."

I remember when John Gibson was outraged at being scrutinized like a commoner when boarding a plane, and he fussed and complained on his national program about the TSA procedures. Methinks if he was actually removed from the plane (after passing security), missing his flight, and being publicly humiliated in the national media, he might want to sue someone too.

Gibson then set up the next segment by asking his guest if "this push for Muslim-Americans to voice complaints justified, or is CAIR going too far? Is it reasonable to think that CAIR is asking Muslim-Americans to make complaints?" For a response he went to Kamal Nawash of Free Muslims Coalition.

Nawash said he thinks most Americans would support someone taking action if (s)he was indeed profiled. He does have a problem with CAIR, however, in that he thinks they are insinuating that it is part of airlines' policy to profile and discriminate against Muslims. He says there's no evidence of that (meaning official profiling policies) but I can find no evidence that that is CAIR's opinion. His concern is that the Muslim-American community will become over-sensitive and charge discrimination when faced with "normal" "security" procedures like taking off our shoes.

Gibson asked Nawash if he thought the imams behavior was provocative, attempting again to blame the victims. Nawash said it may be, but the issue is that he feels confident that airlines are not targeting Muslims although since 9/11 there is heightened anxiety about "traditional looking Muslims". If CAIR really wants to do something, he suggests they start a dialog to lower anxiety. Declaring discrimination and victimization, he said, is unproductive and "taking it too far."

Just what FOX wants to hear from a clean-cut and Americanized Muslim. Assimilate or be suspect, your choice.