Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Iraqi Peace Activist Forced to Change T-Shirt Bearing Arabic Script Before Boarding Plane

by Democracy Now (reposted)
On a trip back from the Middle East, Iraqi blogger and activist Raed Jarrar was not allowed to board a flight at JFK airport because he was wearing a T-Shirt that said "We will not be silent" in English and Arabic. Representatives of Jet Blue Airways forced him to change his T-Shirt saying wearing it was like "going to a bank with a T-Shirt reading 'I am a robber.'"
In Iraq at least 20 people were killed and more than 300 injured on Sunday in attacks on Shiite pilgrims gathering for a mass religious festival in Baghdad.

The shootings occurred despite heavy security measures imposed by US and Iraqi forces that included a weekend driving ban in the capital. About 1,000 people were killed during the Shiite holiday last year when rumors of a suicide bomber triggered a stampede.

The killings on Sunday highlighted tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims that is claiming about 100 lives a day in Iraq and stoking fears that the country is moving towards a full-blown civil war. In July alone, the Baghdad morgue reported more than eighteen hundred violent deaths.

In a sign of how routine the killings have become, the US military reported "relatively little violence" following Sunday's attacks.

Earlier this month, a delegation of peace activists from the United States met with Iraqi parliament members in Amman Jordan to discuss issues concerning Iraq's reconciliation plan as well as the withdrawal of US troops. The delegation met with representatives of the largest Shia and Sunni groups as well as with religious leaders and human rights organizations.

We speak with Raed Jarrar, the Iraq Project Director for Global Exchange about his trip to the Middle East. But first he talks about how he was barred from boarding a flight at JFK airport because he was wearing a T-Shirt bearing Arabic script.

* Raed Jarrar, Iraq Project Director for Global Exchange. He is an Iraqi blogger and architect. His runs a popular blog called "Raed in the Middle."

Three young Winnipeg doctors -- one a Muslim -- were kicked off a flight home from Denver earlier this week after a passenger falsely identified them as a terrorist threat.

Dr. Ahmed Farooq, a fourth-year radiology resident, and two physician friends want an apology from United Airlines and assurances staff will be better trained to identify genuine threats.

Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin has also asked federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to raise the issue with his counterpart in Washington.

"It's the most egregious example of this device of racial profiling I know about among my constituents," said Martin. "These are valuable, upstanding members of our society. Civil rights shouldn't be collateral damage in this whole fight against terrorism."

But officials with United Airlines say they are obliged to take any allegations threatening passenger safety seriously, particularly in a period of heightened tension like the one following last week's discovery of a British terrorist plot targeting transatlantic flights.

Farooq, 27, and his fellow residents were on their way home from a physics course near San Francisco, Calif., in preparation for an upcoming board exam. They were settling into their connecting flight from Denver to Winnipeg when Farooq asked his friend -- a young doctor of East Indian decent who did not want his name published -- to switch seats. Farooq was looking for some privacy so he could discreetly recite his evening prayers.

Shortly before take-off, the two doctors noticed a young man seated a row ahead was giving them distasteful looks and at one point threatened to "pound" Farooq.

Farooq and his friends learned later the passenger, who had clearly been drinking, told a flight attendant he had overheard Farooq's friend say "Now, I can control the aisle."

The aircraft returned to the terminal and an airline official came to escort Farooq, his seatmate and their female colleague off the flight, an experience Farooq called "humiliating."

Within moments, the three were surrounded by Denver police, airport security and an official from the Transportation Security Administration. Their dentification was taken from them, they were told not to speak to one another and an FBI agent was consulted via telephone.

Meanwhile, their flight to Winnipeg departed with the passenger who lodged the complaint still on board.

"Within two or three minutes, the guy from the TSA said he thought the airline staff overreacted and that we never should have been pulled from the plane," said Farooq. "He apologized. Once they relaxed, they were polite and professional."
Add Your Comments
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$40.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network