‘Pray-in’ protesters decry imams’ removal from flight

Protesting the removal of six imams from a US Airways flight last week, a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders staged a “pray-in” Monday near the airline’s ticket counter at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The six men, who had attended a national conference of Islamic scholars, were detained at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Nov. 20. Those attending Monday’s protest said the incident smacked of racial profiling because three of the men had been observed praying in the departure area.

“We are in a place in our society where xenophobia seems to win out,” said Rev. Graylan Hagler, senior minister at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, after the protest. “The last time I checked, public prayer was still protected by the U.S. Constitution,” said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy group.

Los Angeles Times, 28 November 2006

Meanwhile, US right-wingers have vociferously defended the decision to eject the imams from the plane. One typical contribution reads: “Anyone who’s made a habit of watching world events the past five years has had good reason to develop a healthy fear of Islam. When Islam makes the news, it’s usually because one of its adherents has blown himself up in a pizzeria, beheaded a newsman or crashed an airliner into a skyscraper.”

Hugh Hewitt at Townhall.com, 27 November 2006