HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
December 11, 2006, Herald Journal

More to Iman scare than prayers

By ROZ KOHLS

Six Muslim Imans were taken off a US Airways plane Nov. 20 for scaring the flight crew and passengers at Minneapolis St. Paul airport.

The Imans claim they were taken off the plane because they were praying loudly. Because they were Muslim prayers and in Arabic, the Imans suffered discrimination, they said.

However there was a lot more to it than that.

First, the way the Imans were seated was suspicious. At the gate, a couple of the Imans had asked for seat upgrades to first class, but were refused. When the Imans were escorted from the plane, though, two of them had switched to seats in first class that hadn’t been assigned to them, according to Audrey Hudson of the Nov. 28 Washington Times.

Also, they were distributed in the exact formation the 9/11 terrorists used, two in the front, two in the middle, and two in the back. They controlled all the entrance and exit routes from the plane.

In addition, while the rest of the passengers were loading, twice one of the Imans went to the rear of the plane to talk to another Iman, instead of staying in his seat, Hudson said.

Second, there’s the problem with the seat belt extenders. The Imans asked for seatbelt extenders although none of them had a large enough girth to need them. Instead of attaching them to their seat belts, they placed the straps with their heavy buckles on them on the cabin floor, she said.

The heavy buckle on the end can be swung on the end of the strap, making a very dangerous weapon.

This is why flight attendants serving beverages rarely give passengers an entire can of pop. A full can of pop is heavy. If it is put inside a sock, for example, and swung against a skull, it could kill someone.

Instead, the flight attendant pours some of the beverage into a lightweight plastic cup and serves it to the passenger. Sometimes the passenger doesn’t get the can at all.

The airline officials had good reason to be concerned about what the Imans were doing. Taken all together, their behavior was very suspicious. I know I would have been scared to death if I was on that plane.

The Imans also said their evening prayers twice, once at the gate, and again on the plane, although their religion requires them to pray only once. It appears they were definitely trying to provoke a reaction.

There is talk that Muslims might boycott US Airways because of this incident. A boycott might actually increase the airline’s business from customers like me who are afraid of a 9/11 repeat.