On their blog yesterday, USA Today published an editorial deriding the inclusion of “John Doe” as a defendant within the lawsuit filed against US Airways by the 6 flying imams. In part, USA Today wrote (all emphasis added is mine):
“If you see something, say something.” Since the terror attacks of 9/11, that common-sense message has been displayed prominently worldwide for obvious reasons.
Their lawsuit, filed earlier this month, accused the airline and Metropolitan Airports Commission of anti-Muslim bias. That was expected. What’s unique and especially troubling, though, is the effort to identify an unknown number of passengers and airline employees who reported suspicions so they might also be included as defendants. For example, the imams want to know the names of an elderly couple who turned around “to watch” and then made cellphone calls, presumably to authorities, as the men prayed. This legal tactic seems designed to intimidate passengers willing to do exactly what authorities have requested — say something about suspicious activity.
It shouldn’t have to come to that, especially if a judge has the wisdom to throw out the complaints against the “John Doe” passengers before they’re identified. As for ethnic profiling — the reprehensible practice of discriminating solely based on ethnicity — this incident doesn’t qualify. The imams were tossed off the plane because of suspicious behavior, which obviously can’t be ignored. Suing passengers who merely report such behavior threatens everyone’s ability to travel securely.
In part, Arsalan Iftikhar, the national legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, responded:
The lawsuit by the imams is seeking damages from US Airways for their alleged discrimination. It is not against any passengers who reported “suspicious” activity in good faith, even when that “suspicious” behavior includes religiously mandated prayers.
However, political cherry-pickers insinuate that the lawsuit punishes travelers who report suspicious activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. American Muslims are committed to the security of our nation. The six imams are signatories to an Islamic fatwa (religious decree) that states: “It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.”
Reporting suspicious criminal activity to law enforcement authorities does not absolve anyone from the responsibility to be factual. False reporting is criminal. We want to find out whether these “John Does” made other false claims against the imams — not just that they were praying, however ignorant complaining about that might be.
Once allegations are made, it becomes the responsibility of the airline to discern between peaceful prayers and passenger endangerment. Government officials have repeatedly stated that racial profiling is an ineffective law enforcement technique.
As Americans, we deserve security based on intelligence and evidence — not paranoia, false reporting, bigotry and witch hunts at 32,000 feet.
In other words, anytime someone reports suspicious activity that involves a Muslim and authorities do not criminally charge the reporters with filing a false report and publicly identify them, CAIR will promote and bankroll an exploratory lawsuit.
What is odd about CAIR’s response is they forgot to mention that last year CAIR received a $50 million dollar grant from Dubai “to help promote the image of Islam in America.” CAIR missed an opportunity to drive the point home by telling everyone they have all the money they need to sue you into poverty.