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December 14, 2006
Flying Imams A Campaign Stunt

The obvious nature of the provocation made by six Muslim clerics on a US Air flight last month has people wondering what purpose it served for them. Did the imams intend to make a name for themselves in the Muslim victimhood campaign? Did they want to test the security procedures of the airline to determine their capabilities? Kathryn Kersten has a different answer in today's Star Tribune column -- and it's one that encompasses many of the guesses:

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." ...

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.

Have you heard of the End Racial Profiling Act? I had not until now, and that seems to have been the problem The bill has been introduced in both the House and the Senate (by Russ Feingold) and goes back to before the 9/11 attacks. ERPA has gone nowhere since then, languishing on the fringes of politics. In order to get it into the center of debate, its backers needed a high-profile incident.

Enter the Flying Imams. It seemed suspicious to many that this incident took place at the end of a Muslim political action conference here in Minneapolis. The incident seemed too pat, too much of a set-up to just be a coincidence. No one has a transcript of the conference, but one might speculate that such a conference might have ERPA on its agenda. Given CAIR's support of ERPA and their involvement in this case, it seems more than just speculation that the deliberate provocation had this in mind.

It's no surprise that the Muslim Brotherhood and its American political arm wants an end to profiling in airport security. They do not want Muslims singled out for scrutiny. Given the Brotherhood's consideration of religious minorities in nations where they have political clout -- Egypt, Syria, and the like -- that stance is unlikely to spring from a sense of liberal altruism. The Brotherhood has a long history of supporting terrorism as a political tactic, and they would like nothing better than to leave American airliners vulnerable to exploitation.

And that's exactly what ERPA would do. It places the burden on the airlines and TSA to prove that they were not acting in a discriminatory fashion whenever they single anyone out for closer scrutiny in security checks. That means anyone can sue for discrimination and have the presumption of truth in court, a situation that would cripple flight security. With that environment, airlines and TSA would shrink from singling out anyone deemed suspicious unless their actions were so overt that they would overcome that presumption in court. It's a recipe for abject surrender on airline security, fueled by CAIR's new "flying while Muslim" hotline. Only trial lawyers and terrorists benefit from ERPA.

Now that the Democrats have taken control of both chambers of Congress, we can expect ERPA to rise again. CAIR and the MB want Keith Ellison to sponsor it, apparently, since he is the first Muslim to win a seat in Congress. The Flying Imams staged this event in his backyard, another suspicious "coincidence" that followed his election by less than a fortnight. If ERPA flew under the radar before, we had better make sure it gets plenty of attention if the new Democratic leadership tries pushing it through the 110th Congress. (via Power Line)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 14, 2006 5:43 AM

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