On November 20, 2006, 6:30 pm, six Muslim imams were removed from US Airways Flight 300 to Phoenix, Arizona, at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, because several passengers and crew members became alarmed by what they felt was suspicious behavior. The airline has stated that the captain delayed takeoff and called airport security workers to ask the imams to leave the plane; the men refused, and that the captain then called police. The plane left without the imams on board about three hours later. The imams were arrested, questioned, and then released.
The imams, along with the Muslim American Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have brought high-profile complaints and demonstrations against the airline, saying they were removed from the airplane solely due to religious discrimination. Investigations by the airline and police reported that the airline and ground crews responded to security concerns properly in removing the men from the plane.
On July 24, 2009, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery allowed a discrimination lawsuit filed by the imams to proceed, saying, "The right not to be arrested in the absence of probable cause is clearly established and, based on the allegations ... no reasonable officer could have believed that the arrest of the Plaintiffs was proper."
The six imams were Didmar Faja, Mohamed Said Mitwaly Ibrahim, Marwan Sadeddin, Omar Shahin, Ahmad al-Shqeirat (also known as Amad Tafish Shqeirat), and Mahmoud Sulaiman. Ibrahim lives and works in Bakersfield, California, and the other five live and work in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
Shahin denied some of these observations in press reports (see "conflicting accounts" below).
The day following the incident, Shahin, the spokesperson for the group, spoke to the press that had gathered when he returned to a US Airways ticket counter to buy new tickets for the group. He told media that the incident was "humiliating, the worst moment of my life," and asked, "To practice your faith and pray is a crime in America?" When US Airways would not issue him and the other imams new tickets he called for a boycott of the airline, and said, "I'm not going to stay silent... I came to this country to enjoy justice and freedom". He has said it is incorrect that any of the men had one-way tickets, and that he had alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the conference in order to prevent this kind of incident from occurring.
Another protest, organized by the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, took place on December 1, 2006, in front of US Airways headquarters. The spokesman for the group said: "We want to tell US Airways that second-class citizenship is not an option." Other speakers at the gathering included a Jewish leader, a Catholic cleric, and a Presbyterian pastor who told the crowd that the "Imams did nothing to merit their exclusion from the flight". A spokesman for the Muslim American Society said that several of the affected imams did not attend the gathering because they are shy about publicity, and had been humiliated.
One of the imams, al-Shqeirat, spiritual leader of the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, said in an interview that the imams were likely to file a discrimination lawsuit against US Airways, saying that "it was handled in an unprofessional way, and the decision (to remove them from the plane) was made by unprofessional people."
Muslim Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, who gave a talk on "Imams and Politics" at the meeting from which the flying imams were returning home, attempted to organize a meeting between US Airways executives, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and other legislators and community members to discuss the incident.
Investigations by the airline, the Air Carrier Security Committee of the Air Line Pilots Association, and the Department of Homeland Security supported the actions of the airline and found no evidence that the men were removed from the airline due to religious discrimination because they were "merely praying," but rather for security reasons. A US Airways spokesperson said,
We've done what we typically do in a situation where there is a removal or some kind of customer service at issue.... We talked with crew members and passengers and those on the ground.... We found out the facts are substantially the same, and the imams were detained because of the concerns crew members had based on the behavior they observed, and from reports by the customers.... We're looking at it as a security issue and as a customer-service issue and where we might need to do outreach.
A meeting between the six imams and the airline as part of the investigation was canceled at the imam's request.
The imams retained the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as their legal counsel. Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, sent a letter to the airline seeking a settlement agreement and said, "otherwise, the group is prepared to go to court." Awad told CNN, "This is very important. Otherwise we have no guarantees such incidents with US Airways and other airlines would not happen again." No information about the amount of damages sought was given.
On October 27, 2009, the "flying imams" and the air carrier settled out of court for an unknown amount.
On March 12, 2007, the imams' lawyer, Omar Mohammedi, filed a lawsuit on their behalf for unspecified damages, citing "fear, depression, mental pain and financial injury" on the part of the imams. The lawsuit targeted US Airways and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission, along with several unnamed passengers on the flight, who had reported on the imams' behavior to the flight crew, referred to as "John Does" in the lawsuit. The decision to include passengers among the targets of the lawsuit was a controversial one, with some legal experts saying it could have a "chilling effect" on airline security. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, filed a brief on behalf of the passengers, and called this aspect of the lawsuit "legal terrorism".
As a result of the lawsuit, on March 22, 2007, U.S. Representative Steve Pearce introduced the "Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007" into the United States Congress, a bill that would have outlawed the suing of airline passengers who report on suspicious activity. On March 27, the bill was scrapped, and the wording instead placed into the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007, through an amendment sponsored by Representative Peter T. King. At the same time, the imams amended their lawsuit to sue only those "John Does" who had acted "with the intent to discriminate". On July 19, this portion was removed from the bill when the bill's final wording was drafted by a House and Senate conference committee. The Associated Press reported, however, that in late July 2007 "lawmakers in Congress reached a deal on a homeland security bill to include language, crafted in response to the imams case, that would give immunity from lawsuits to people who report suspicious behavior. The bill passed the House and Senate."
On August 1, 2007, the imams' attorney Frederick Goetz announced a motion to amend the complaint to include the names of the individuals responsible for the imams' removal had been entered. The list of names included employees of the airline and police officers, but not passengers. Goetz said "We've identified the people we think are responsible", and said that their amending the complaint had "absolutely nothing to do" with the bill in Congress.
Shahin denied allegation of suspicious behavior, and said everyone in the group had round-trip tickets and that he has the documentation to prove it, that he asked for a seatbelt extension because he weighs 290 pounds (130 kg), and that the group conducted their sunset-time prayers in a quiet manner.
The police report shows the imams sitting in seats 1B, 9C, 9D, 21B, 25D, and 25E. Regarding the claim that the imams did not sit in their assigned seats, Shahin said that only one imam, Sadeddin, switched seats. Sadeddin, who is blind and claimed to need assistance, convinced a coach passenger to exchange seats so that he could sit next to Sulaiman in Row 9. Explaining his seat in first class, Shahin said that he is a frequent flyer and had received an Elite Member upgrade to first class.
Conflicting accounts about the use of handcuffs put that aspect of the controversy into question. On November 21, 2006, Shahin told the Associated Press, "Six scholars in handcuffs. It's terrible." Amy Goodman reports a similar statement made on November 29. However, on December 1 The Washington Times stated: "Mr. Shahin says they were not led off the plane in handcuffs, as reported, nor were they kept in handcuffs during their five-hour detention, and they were not harassed by dogs." However, a Washington Times editorial on December 2 claimed that Shahin had stated that the imams were already handcuffed when they were taken off the plane. To add to the confusion, a passenger told a group of news reporters a few hours later that "apparently they [the imams] were all in handcuffs by the end" of their time on the airplane, though it appears that she did not observe this directly.
The Washington Times reported that, according to Shahin, the US Airways refused to sell the imams a plane ticket, despite the intervention of an FBI agent who tried to persuade the airline in favor of the imams. FBI spokesman Paul McCabe disputes that an agent talked to US Airways on behalf of the imams.
The group had initially attracted attention by praying loudly in the departure lounge before boarding the plane. Spokespersons for Muslim advocacy organizations the Muslim American Society and CAIR argued that rather than doing anything suspicious, all the men did was pray, and that the removal from the plane represented religious profiling. CAIR's Arizona chapter spokesperson said that "All these men did was pray, and it was misunderstood. The bottom line is that they were Middle Eastern-looking men ... and that scares some people," and, "We are concerned that crewmembers, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam."
An editorial in Investor's Business Daily questioned whether the imams were "victims or provocateurs", and suggested that it is possible the incident was planned in advance to gain publicity for planned congressional legislation against profiling. The Muslim American Society also backed this legislation expected to be introduced by Representative John Conyers of Detroit. Denouncing "the provocative agenda of these imams," Debra Burlingame opined that "it is nothing short of obscene that these six religious leaders (…) chose to turn that airport into a stage and that airplane into a prop in the service of their need for grievance theater."
A former federal air marshal expressed the fear that the situation "will make crews and passengers in the future second-guess reporting these events, thus compromising the aircraft's security out of fear of being labeled a dogmatist or a bigot, or being sued," and that "Instilling politically correct fears into the minds of airline passengers is nothing less than psychological terrorism."
Critics also noted Shahin's prior involvement with a similar case. Two Arizona college students and members of Shahin's mosque, Muhammed al-Qudhaieen and Hamdan al-Shalawi, were removed from an America West flight after making two attempts to open the cockpit. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the FBI suspected this was a dry run for the 9/11 hijackings. The students filed racial-profiling lawsuits against America West, now part of US Airways, with Shahin as their defense attorney
After the out-of-court settlement was announced in 2009, a USA Today editorial called the imams' lawsuit "troubling", and stated that the lawsuit's conclusion could lead "others to act out in hopes of cashing in", and might prevent "passengers from speaking up, or airline crews from acting, when they have reasonable suspicions."
This controversy was the subject of a segment of talk show host Jerry Klein's radio show. During the show Mr. Klein purposely pretended to support forcing American Muslims to wear "identifying markers" such as armbands or tattoos (as Nazi Germany did to Jews before and during World War II) to provoke listener reactions (see Jerry Klein's 2006 radio experiment).
The 2016 Minneapolis shooting took place on June 29, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota when a man named Anthony Sawina shot at five Somali-Americans, wounding two of them. Witnesses later recounted that Sawina shouted anti-Muslim expletives and claimed he was "going to kill [them] all." The attack was condemned by civil rights groups as part of a larger rise of Islamophobia in the United States leading up the 2016 presidential election.969 Movement
The 969 Movement (Burmese: ၉၆၉ လှုပ်ရှားမှု) is a nationalist movement opposed to what they see as Islam’s expansion in predominantly-Buddhist Burma. The three digits of 969 "symbolise the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community". The first 9 stands for the nine special attributes of the Lord Buddha and the 6 for the six special attributes of his Dharma, or Buddhist Teachings, and the last 9 represents the nine special attributes of Buddhist Sangha (monastic community). Those special attributes are the Three Jewels of the Buddha. In the past, the Buddha, Sangha, Dhamma, the wheel of Dhamma, and "969" were Buddhist signs. The movement has inspired strong reactions within and beyond Myanmar. In the international media it has received criticism. The Straits Times reported that Ashin Wirathu, the movement's leader, responded to recent anti-Muslim violence with pledges to work for peace but critics remain sceptical.Various media organizations have described the movement as being anti-Muslim or "Islamophobic". The movement's Myanmar Buddhist supporters deny it is anti-Muslim, with Bhikkhu Wirathu stating it is a protective movement about targeting "Bengalis who are terrorizing ethnic Rakhine (Buddhists)". Alex Bookbinder, in The Atlantic, links the movement's origins in a book written in the late 1990s by Kyaw Lwin, a functionary in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and its precepts are rooted in a traditional belief in numerology. Across South Asia, Muslims represent the phrase "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful" with the number 786, and businesses display the number to indicate that they are Muslim-owned. 969's proponents see this as a Muslim plot to conquer Burma in the 21st century, based on the premise that 7 plus 8 plus 6 is equal to 21. The number 969 is intended to be 786's cosmological opposite.ACT! for America
ACT! for America, founded in 2007, is a U.S.-based anti-Muslim, pro-Trump advocacy group dedicated to combating what it describes as "the threat of radical Islam" to the safety of Americans and to democracy.Critics of the group, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for American Progress, describe it as a hate group. It has been called the U.S.'s largest anti-Muslim organization.Australian Defence League
The Australian Defence League (ADL) is a militant far-right, white nationalist street gang. The group is anti-Islam, and has been involved in making terrorist threats, abusing, stalking and doxxing Muslim Australians. The gang was founded in Sydney in 2009 as an offshoot of the English Defence League.Blair Cottrell
Blair Cottrell (born 1989) is an Australian far-right extremist. He is the former chairman and founding member of the United Patriots Front (UPF) and the Lads Society. Cottrell has been described by numerous media outlets and Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, as a neo-Nazi and has been convicted on multiple charges of inciting hatred against communities, stalking and burglary.Bukovica massacre
The Bukovica massacre was a massacre of Muslims in Bukovica, Pljevlja, in the Axis-occupied Italian governorate of Montenegro. It took place February 4–7, 1943, during Pavle Đurišić's Chetniks' 1943 cleansing campaign (conducted against the order of supreme Chetnik command). The massacre was aimed at establishing Chetnik control over territories held by the Sandžak Muslim militia. After a short battle with the Muslim militia, Chetniks captured Bukovica and killed over five hundred civilians.Escondido mosque fire
The Escondido mosque fire was an arson attack perpetrated against the Islamic Center of Escondido, California, in March 2019.Police found graffiti on the mosque's driveway that referenced the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, leading them to consider the fire a terrorist attack. For over a month no suspect was identified. Then, on April 27, John T. Earnest entered the nearby Chabad of Poway synagogue and opened fire, killing one and injuring three others. An online posting from Earnest admitted responsibility for the mosque arson. No one was injured in the fire, and it was put out before extensive damage occurred.Flying while Muslim
Flying while Muslim or Muslim while flying is an expression referring to the problems Muslim passengers can face on airplanes, during stopovers or in airports in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. It is constructed in an analogy to the older expression driving while black, which similarly satirizes racial profiling of African Americans by police and other law enforcement.Head rag tax
The head rag tax (Dutch: kopvoddentaks) is the pejorative name under which a tax on wearing headscarves in the Netherlands has been suggested by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who founded and leads the Party for Freedom.Wilders made his suggestion of creating the headscarf tax on September 16, 2009 during the "General reflections". Those who wanted to wear headscarves would have to obtain a permit first and that would cost a thousand euros per year. This was a way for him to try to discourage people wearing a headscarf. The money would be used to finance women's shelters, for those trying to abandon Islam.
On Wilders' suggestion there was unbelief and criticism from other political parties. D66 party leader Alexander Pechtold wondered: "Is this a stand-up show?" and he wanted to know if the hat of minister Plasterk would also fall under that tax definition. The Egyptian-Dutch publicist Nahed Selim wondered if Wilders was inspired by a special tax for Jewish and Christians that existed in Islamic countries until the middle of the 19th century. She thought Wilders' suggestion was a missed opportunity and would have rather seen that he kept the attention on the islamisation of public space.When in November 2009 the tax plan was discussed, Teun van Dijck of the Freedom Party was challenged by parliament member Farshad Bashir (Socialist Party) to file an amendment. Van Dijck answered that he would not, because the proposal was not yet sorted out.In January 2010, journalist Karen Geurtsen of the magazine HP/De Tijd made public that at that time there was criticism on the idea within the Party for Freedom as well and that Wilders would later have admitted that he had gone too far. Geurtsen knew about the ins-and-outs within the Party for Freedom fraction because she was undercover as an intern. Wilders called it "total nonsense" that he would have admitted to an intern that his proposal went too far.In the party election program of 2010–2015 of the Freedom Party, the word "head-rag tax" is not mentioned; however, there is a plea for taxing headscarves.Islamophobia Watch
Islamophobia Watch was a website which was initiated in January 2005 as a non-profit project to document material in the media, and in society at large, which it perceives to advocate Islamophobia.The website was set up by two non-Muslim socialists, Eddie Truman and Bob Pitt. Truman was at that time press officer for the Scottish Socialist Party group at the Scottish Parliament, and Pitt worked as a researcher in the office of the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.Islamophobia in Germany
Islamophobia in Germany refers to the set of discourses, behaviours and structures which express feelings of anxiety, fear, hostility and rejection towards Islam and/or Muslims in Germany. Islamophobia can manifest itself through discrimination in the workforce, negative coverage in the media, and violence against Muslims. Various German Islamic groups have expressed concerns over the attacks targeting mosques.Israel and Islamophobia
Islamophobia often involves the strategy of targeted elimination and harassment of a population of Muslims. This tactic is common in other countries such as Myanmar and India, as indicated by an opinion piece about British political parties. Unlike Myanmar and India, Islamophobia in Israel often takes the form of spreading Islamophobia in other countries. This includes abusing power by justifying the harassment of Palestinians within territories under Israel's control, as well as supporting aggression towards Muslim people. This strategy has become less frequent over time, due to multiple agreements and treaties. Islamophobia within Israel is considered an issue of social injustice.Lobbyists in Israel have often given support to many of the tactics employed by the government. Many groups such as the Carter Center condemn Islamophobia and its many forms. These groups support advocates for peace and justice in Palestine. In order to counter these measures, the government often applies allegedly racist and McCarthyist campaigns and tactics.Neil Erikson
Neil Erikson (born 1985) is an Australian far-right extremist, founding member of the United Patriots Front (UPF). Erikson is a neo-Nazi and convicted criminal whose convictions include assault, inciting contempt against Muslims, stalking, making threats to prevent a clergyman discharging duties and disturbing religious worship, affray and riotous behaviour. Along with fellow UPF members Chris Shortis and Blair Cottrell, he was associated with the secretive far-right "fight club", Lads Society. The UPF has now been renamed Lads Society.
Erikson came to national prominence after posting a video of himself verbally abusing Iranian-born former Labor senator Sam Dastyari in a Melbourne bar. During the verbal attack Erikson called Dastyari a "terrorist" and a "little monkey" and told him to "go back home". Erikson espouses the antisemitic canard and Jewish conspiracy theory of cultural Marxism.Politically Incorrect (blog)
Politically Incorrect (commonly abbreviated PI) is a mainly German-language Counter-jihad political blog which focuses on topics related to immigration, multiculturalism, and Islam in Germany and Western societies. A condensed version of the weblog is available in English. The blog's self-declared goal is to bring news to a wider public attention which it perceives to be ignored or suppressed in the mainstream media due to a pervading "leftist political correctness". It describes itself as pro-American, pro-Israel, in support of fundamental rights and human rights, and opposed to the "Islamisation of Europe".
Politically Incorrect is one of the most popular German political blogs in terms of readership. It has been widely criticized by the German media for creating fear of Islam, while it enjoys some support in the conservative press opposed to Islamism. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz) has consistently placed the blog within the Islam-critical spectrum, assessing its activities as protected by the freedom of speech. The blog's local news bureau in Bavaria, though, is monitored by the Verfassungsschutz of this state.Stop Islamisation of Denmark
Stop Islamisation of Denmark (Danish: Stop Islamiseringen af Danmark) is a Danish anti-Islamic organisation founded in 2005. The group has been active in campaigning against the building of mosques in Denmark and has staged free speech demonstrations in relation to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. In 2007 the group protested outside of the European Union headquarters . In 2013 the group protested discrimination against Jews. The group was founded by Danish anti-Islamic activist Anders Gravers Pedersen.Stop Islamisation of Europe
Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE), also known as Stop the Islamification of Europe, is a group with the stated goal of "preventing Islam from becoming a dominant political force in Europe". It is a political interest group which has been active in Denmark and has conducted anti-Islamic protests in the United Kingdom. The group originated out of the joining of the Danish group Stop Islamisation of Denmark with English anti-Islam activists.The group says that its aim is to oppose Islamic extremism; they have the motto "Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense".The Brussels Journal
The Brussels Journal is a conservative blog, founded by the Flemish journalist Paul Beliën. It is consistently named as one of the Counter-jihad movement's main channels. It was founded in 2005, and has both an English language section with various international contributions, and a Dutch section.
The Brussels Journal bills itself as a member of the OpinionJournal Federation but does not appear among the list of members on OpinionJournal's own site. It is published by the Society for the Advancement of Freedom in Europe (SAFE), a Swiss non-profit organisation.True Blue Crew
The True Blue Crew (TBC) is an Australian far-right extremist group. Members and supporters have been linked to right-wing terrorism and vigilantism, and members have been arrested with weapons and on terrorism-related charges. Experts who have studied the group say it appears to be "committed to violence".The group rose to prominence as an anti-Islam group in 2015, and shifted more towards anti-immigration in response to public sentiment and police crackdowns.Yellow Vest Australia
Yellow Vest Australia (YVA), until 9 April 2019 known as the Australian Liberty Alliance (ALA), is a minor political party in Australia. The party was founded by members of the Q Society and has been described as the political wing of Q Society. The leader is currently Debbie Robinson (President), who is also national president of the Q Society.The party's core policy is opposition to Islam with policies focusing on Muslim immigration such as enforcing "integration over separation", replacing multiculturalism with an intergrated multi-ethnic society and stop public funding for "associations formed around foreign nationalities". They have vowed to "stop the Islamisation of Australia". Party president Debbie Robinson has made a number of Islam-critical statements including that Islam is "a totalitarian ideology that does not separate its law from its religious entity...Slowly but surely our Judeo-Christian values, ethics and customs are being replaced" and warned that "If we continue to tolerate Islam without understanding it, Australia as a free, secular democracy will be lost."
Other policies include promoting smaller government, privatising public broadcaster SBS and scaling down the ABC, opposing taxpayer-funded subsidies for renewable energy, promoting advanced nuclear energy, ending dual citizenship for new citizenship applicants, simplifying the tax system with less income tax and a stronger focus on GST, improving public healthcare by more efficient cooperation with the private healthcare sector, advancing the 'natural family', and restoring civil society, among 20 other core policies.