Katherine Kersten at the Star Tribune has an eye-opening piece that contains a detailed speculation that the imams who were escorted off the US Airways flight at Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport a few weeks ago may have been trying to drum up some publicity for a proposal that has been languishing in the House for the last two years called the “End Racial Profiling Act” – sponsored by Michigan Rep. John Conyers who, as noted in the article, represents a district with one of the largest Muslim populations in the country. Kersten writes:
On Dec. 1, a curious report on the grounded-imams incident at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport appeared on the website of the Iranian Quran News Agency. The report quoted extensively from Madhi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation. The foundation is the American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, “the world’s most influential Islamic fundamentalist group,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Bray’s initial statement about the incident had an all-American, see-you-in-court ring. He demanded “large financial compensation for the imams,” adding, “We want US Airways and any other airline displaying this type of behavior against Muslims to be hit where it hurts, the pocketbook.”
The report echoed statements made by the imams themselves. Omar Shahin, their spokesman, has portrayed the incident in a way that’s consistent with a lawsuit and a public relations offensive. He’s called for a Jesse Jackson-style boycott of US Airways, and applied classic civil-rights rhetoric to the incident: “This is prejudice; this is obvious discrimination,” the Star Tribune quoted him as saying. “I cannot change the color of my skin,” he told Newsweek.
But the report on the Iranian website, which has appeared on a variety of Muslim websites worldwide, had a larger primary focus. After the imams incident, it quoted Bray as saying Muslims want “new, broad-sweeping legislation that will extract even larger financial and civil penalties for any airline that participates in racial and religious profiling.”
The report is optimistic that Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, will lend his support to new legislation. Ellison, it says, has expressed his opposition to “such racial and religious profiling.” Ellison, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
One piece of legislation in the works is the End Racial Profiling Act. It is an important priority of Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, whose district includes one of the largest Muslim populations in the country. Conyers introduced the bill in 2004 and 2005, but it went nowhere. Now the alignment of forces may be changing. Conyers will probably be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when the new Democratic-controlled Congress convenes next month.
Nancy Pelosi, who called herself a “proud” cosponsor of the Profiling Act in 2004, is the incoming House speaker. And in January, Ellison, who represents the district where the imams incident occurred, will take his seat in Congress.
Make sure to read the whole thing.
Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds