Saturday, December 02, 2006

From your world-weary traveler: Saturday Paranoia

It's been too long, dear reader. Since its the weekend and email is no longer instantly at our fingertips, I find it better to post today.

According to this web site I never heard of, the Muslim passengers who claimed their rights were violated by US Airways were behaving more suspiciously than initially reported. This story is culled from police reports and an email written to US Airways by a passenger named Pauline:

I'll save you the precious reading time and present the skinny.
Another passenger, not the note writer, was an Arabic speaker sitting near two of the imams in the plane’s tail. That passenger pulled a flight attendant aside, and in a whisper, translated what the men were saying. They were invoking “bin Laden” and condemning America for “killing Saddam,” according to police reports.

Meanwhile an imam seated in first class asked for a seat-belt extension, even though according to both an on-duty flight attendant and another deadheading flight attendant, he looked too thin to need one. Hours later, when the passengers were being evacuated, the seat-belt extension was found on the floor near the imam’s seat, police reports confirm.

A married couple one row behind first-class, tried to strike up a conversation with the imam seated near them. He refused to talk or even look at the woman in the eye, according to Pauline. Instead, he stood up and moved to join the other imams in the back of the plane.

All six imams had boarded together, with the first-class passengers - even though only one of them had a first-class ticket. Three had one-way tickets. Between the six men, only one had checked a bag.


One thing that no one seemed to consider at the time, perhaps due to lack of familiarity with Islamic practice, is that the men prayed both at the gate and on the plane. Observant Muslims pray only once at sundown, not twice. (Could someone verify this?)

he reaction of the remaining passengers has also gone unreported. “We applauded and cheered for the crew,” she said.

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