Victimization claims sow alienation

Faking Muslim victimization is the bold constant at some Islamic-American "civil rights" groups.

Darren Bernard

The U.S. Islamic community stands to lose face yet again in upcoming months as two frivolous cases of “discrimination” that have taken headlines finally gain some closure. For all the bad press and embarrassment, Muslims can thank the charges of two of the largest Muslim-American “rights” groups in the country – the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS).

CAIR and MAS are not the neighborhood NAACP chapter or ACLU crowd, as they are known for their links to Saudi money and the violent Muslim Brotherhood, respectively. And, notwithstanding their size, neither organization is much abashed in its support for terrorist sympathizers and financiers. Both have postings on their Web sites asking readers to protest the detention of Sami al-Arian – the former Florida professor who pled guilty last year to conspiring to provide support to a terrorist organization.

Now, MAS and CAIR are preparing for legal fights in Minnesota over much-publicized airline safety and cab service disputes that they are as sure to fight as they are to lose. Of course, the only thing that will come of the lawsuits is more perceived victimization of the mainstream Muslim-American community – conveniently, to the profit and increased relevance of MAS and CAIR.

That either group purposefully plays on ethnic and religious tensions for gain is hardly disputable. Exhibit A is the case of the “flying imams.” Three days before Thanksgiving last year, six bearded Muslims were removed from a US Airways flight departing from Minneapolis for Phoenix for what national news outlets simply called “praying.”

Within hours of the incident MAS issued a knee-jerk press release calling for protests and an immediate apology from the airline (no need to get all the facts first). This month, CAIR and the imams filed a lawsuit for compensatory damages as a result of the “discrimination” (and then, almost comically, kicked out Washington Post reporters and a Christian Broadcasting Network news crew from its press conference).

Even today, MAS and CAIR stand by the fiction that the imams were somehow quietly praying before being, suddenly, inexplicably, handcuffed and thrown off the airplane.

In fact, flight attendants and passengers have come to explain that, after shouting “Allah Akbar” in prayer, the imams configured on the plane in the same seating arrangement as the Sept. 11 hijackers. Three of the imams asked for seatbelt extensions – used for obese people, which the imams were not, and which could alternatively be used as weapons. Passengers fluent in Arabic also told flight attendants that some of the imams were angrily denouncing U.S. foreign policy, Iraq and a host of other not-so-discrete topics.

Short of waving box cutters at the flight crew, the imams did just about everything they could to get noticed, and, rightfully, US Airways still sticks by its pilots and flight attendants for removing the now-plaintiffs. Yet despite its meager odds of winning the lawsuit, CAIR is leading a legal fight that will both seek to weaken airport security and get plenty of sound-bite misrepresentations bound to flare emotions and ignite who-knows-what kind of religious accusations. That, evidently, is the goal.

MAS is aiming for the same in its support of Muslim cab drivers at the Minneapolis airport who are refusing to pick up passengers carrying alcohol or, in some cases, who are accompanied by seeing-eye dogs. For more than two years, officials at MSP have been trying to negotiate with cab drivers licensed to serve the airport – to little avail.

Appropriately, it was the MAS “fatwa department” that declared carrying alcohol is against Islamic faith – a curious decision given cabbies in predominantly Muslim nations like Egypt are not known to object to transporting it. Even more appropriately, it was MAS that proposed allowing cabbies to color code their vehicles so customers would know where they stand on the alcohol issue – a subtle step toward Sharia law.

About three years late, airport officials are finally set to vote in April on stiffening penalties against cab drivers for refusing to pick up customers, even under threat of another eye-rolling lawsuit. Again, it would be an unwinnable lawsuit for MAS and the cabbies, but one that would likely divide the Somali community and be played by radical groups as spit in the face of Islamic beliefs.

For a group like CAIR, which claims to “empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding,” encouraging religious division is morally repulsive – but not unexpected. Faking Muslim victimization is the unabashed constant at MAS and CAIR, both of which only seem to sow religious and social alienation between Muslim and non-Muslim Americans. Hopefully, it is not just the legal system that sees through such self-serving radicalism. Muslim Americans deserve better.

Darren Bernard welcomes comments at [email protected]