Right before Thanksgiving, six Islamic imams were booted off a US Airways flight out of Minneapolis in what the media portrayed as a gross instance of ugly American religious profiling.
Subsequently, a Muslim group staged a "pray-in" at Reagan National Airport in Washington as a protest and vowed to take US Airways to court over the incident.
Today, we thank Debra Burlingame for her thorough and insightful piece on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal (a page we rarely find favor with) for setting the facts straight on this incident. Burlingame is a director of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and sister of the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 that was crashed into the Pentagon by Islamic terrorists on 9/11.
Here's a link to the Burlingame's important article: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009348
Some highlights: Before boarding US Airways Flight 300, the six bearded imams shouted out "Allahu Akbar" several times as they offered prayers while nearly 150 other passengers waited to board the flight.
Of course, that's just what the terrorists who hijacked United Flight 93 shouted into the cockpit voice recorder before slamming into the ground in Pennsylvania, killing all aboard.
But the imams were not ejected for praying in the terminal, no matter how chilling their words might have been to the passengers standing around them. (For the record, the Curmudgeon has nothing against people praying before a flight--we certainly do it. But we're not particularly comfortable getting on board a plane with anybody, of any religion, who is shouting "god is great" before they board. Silent or quiet prayers will do just fine, thank you.)
Instead, after they boarded the flight, the imams refused to take their assigned seats, instead dispersing to seats in the first row of first class, the midcabin exit rows and rear. As Burlingame points out, this is the exact configuration taken by the 9/11 terrorists.
Three of the imams requested seatbelt extensions, which are provided to obese passengers, but can be used as a weapon because they have a heavy metal buckle on the end of a long strap. Each of them placed the rolled up extensions under their seats.
In addition, an arabic speaking passenger pulled aside a crew member to relate translations of the imams suspicious conversations, which had frightened the passenger. Those conversations included furious denunciations of U.S. foreign policy and angry proclamations about Americans in general.
Sorry folks, but while the Curmudgeon believes in civil liberties, those imams deserved the boot. Their actions were provocative--especially the seats they took, which they surely knew, and the crew surely knew, had 9/11 significance.
We're kidding ourselves if we don't realize that there are, in fact, large numbers of Islamic radicals who would love nothing better than to kill and terrorize Americans, and that one of their favorite tactics still involves using airplanes as their instruments of terror.
Burlingame also does an excellent job of taking apart the misleading post-incident protests orchestrated by a group called the Muslim American Society.
We hope US Airways sticks to its guns on this one. The airline and crew did the right thing.