Flying while Muslim?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Nine Muslim passengers were kicked off a flight from Washington, D.C., to Florida after other passengers reported hearing a suspicious remark about airplane security.

AirTran Airways spokesman Tad Hutcheson called the incident on the New Year’s Day flight from Reagan National Airport to Orlando, Fla., a misunderstanding, but defended the company’s response. He said the airline followed federal rules and did nothing wrong.

The AP has the story here.

Any similarity between this story and the one from Minneapolis in 2006 is purely… their point.

“It was an ordeal,” said Abdur Razack Aziz, one of those detained said. “Nothing came out of it. It was paranoid people. It was very sad.”

All but one of the 9 are American citizens by birth.

Jeanne LeBlanc, who writes a travel blog for the Hartford Courant gives AirTran the “what for?”

The AirTran spokesman wants it both ways on this one. He told The Post the incident amounted to a misunderstanding, but said:

“At the end of the day, people got on and made comments they shouldn’t have made on the airplane, and other people heard them [and] misconstrued them.”

So which was it? They said things they “shouldn’t have?” Or they were misunderstood? Who determines what we “should” say? Is that different for people who look Muslim? Are we responsible for the way someone might misinterpret our innocent words?

  • bigalmn

    This just illustrates how people react to appearances and normal discussions that have a few key words that stand out based on the appearance.

    Whether it is race, sexual orientation or body size, assumptions are made some justified but most not. People need to pay attention to the entire situation, listening carefully to what is happening vs. those few key words that stand out.

  • Islamophobia in action….likely the same folks who still think that Pres-elect Obama is a terrorist! (Sigh)

  • SkyDaddy

    And if the 9/11 terrorists had been Catholics, people would get the heeby-jeebies about passengers fingering Rosary beads in flight. I’m sorry for the inconvenience that those nine innocent Mulsims went through, but it’s completely understandable.

  • Chris

    I’m not sure that “looking Muslim” means anything to me. Someone could look middle Eastern (darker skin tone, perhaps facial hair, an accent, etc). SkyDaddy implies the same thing above: we would only know Catholic terrorists if they did something “Catholic.”

    Some differences are visible and unchosen (race, gender). Some differences are invisible and unchosen (orientation).

    Some differences are invisible and chosen (religion).

    I don’t know how we tell apart “terrorists” from “non terrorists”.

  • Todd

    I fail to understand the relevance of their ability to remove people based on things they say. They made it through security; they weren’t on a “no-fly” list. This has everything to do with managing comfort and nothing to do with managing security. This makes as much sense to me as a law that would require actual terrorists who make it onto the plane to remain silent until take-off.

  • Bob Collins

    Skydaddy, I know everyone points to the hijackers around 9/11, but do you remember the original description of the bomber in Oklahoma City?

  • Heather

    Todd! Hush! We already have to take our shoes off because of that ONE GUY, and we already have to remain in our seats for a specified period of time while approaching or taking off from National Airport. Please don’t give them any more bright ideas! I’d never be able to keep my daughter silent until take-off. Oy.

  • @Bob – Two people John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, John Doe 2 was said to have dark hair and of possible Hispanic heritage. But I think you probably are thinking later media reports (day after the event) and speculation among conspiracy theorists cast the suspect as being of Middle Eastern descent, the original reports do not reflect that characterization.

  • Bob Collins

    The media reports that day (electronic) did reflect that characterization.

  • @Bob – OK I always thought that was a urban myth. And even checked a little before I posted so as to not look dumb. I will take it on your word because you were working then and I was, well, 21.

  • Hank

    The subhumans that inhabit the Tom Barnard Morning Show on KQRS certainly characterized the OK City bombers as Middle Easterners as it was occurring and blamed it on our “open borders.” I never tuned into that wretched station again after that.