Imam Claims Racial Profiling by American Airlines

Monday, May 09, 2011

One of the city's most prominent Muslim leaders claims he was prevented from boarding two American Airlines flights en route to a conference on Islamophobia last week because of his appearance.

Imam Al-Amin Abdul-Latif — who heads the Majlis Ash-Shura, or Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, a representative body that includes dozens of area mosques — said he was twice denied by officials when he tried to board an American Airlines flight from La Guardia to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday to attend a conference on Islamophobia.

The imam was traveling with his son, Imam Abubakr Abdul-Latif, who heads a mosque in Bed-Stuy.

The two cleared a security check and arrived at their gate where they said a Transportation Security Administration official asked to see the elder Abdul-Latif's boarding pass.

The official allegedly left for 10 to 15 minutes before returning the boarding pass. The father's boarding pass would not scan and he resigned himself to missing the flight, assuming his son would make it to Charlotte.

The son's flight did not take off, and according to Abubakr, the plane returned to the gate after having approached the runway.

After having his documents examined, he said he was allowed to walk away. He eventually reunited with his father, who had obtained a new boarding pass for early the next day, and the two returned at around 3:30 a.m.

The son's boarding pass was cleared, but this time, the two said an American Airlines employee indicated to the elder imam that he was not allowed on the plane.

"There was no ill intent on the part of any of our employees involved in this," American Airlines spokesman Ed Martelle wrote in response. "It was a situation that just got very complicated very quickly."

Ann Davis, a spokesperson for the TSA, referred questions back to American Airlines, and said her office was not familiar with the incident.

But the senior imam thinks his appearance -- a kufi, or Muslim cap, and a beard dyed bright-red with henna -- caused airline officials to single him out.

"I look at the climate that we're living in -- the anti-Islam, the anti-Muslim trend that is growing in the country, by a handful of hatemongers, basically. That's the climate we're living in, that's why we're having that conference, [on] Islamophobia, to discuss the strategy of how to respond and how to deal with this growing trend of hatred and bigotry towards Islam and Muslims."

He noted that nine other imams had been on the plane -- none of whom were apparently prevented from flying -- but said the fact that he is prominent adds weight to his fear that Muslims are being targeted.

"If it had not been for the death of Osama bin Laden, I don't think these incidents would've happened," said Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

But Hooper suggested it was possible technical problems, rather than profiling, had prompted the New York incident.

The incidents have prompted a grass-roots campaign by Muslim groups, including the Muslim Peace Coalition USA, encouraging members to voice their disapproval to American Airlines and call on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the "ongoing harassment of Muslims."
Imam Abdul-Latif, according to the email being circulated by the group, "is a well known and well respected leader active in civil rights and social justice issues. He heads the 500,000 strong Muslim community of the greater New York area. No American should be discriminated against. When a leader of Imam Latif's stature is discriminated against then all citizens are endangered."

According to Imam Abdul-Malik Mujahid, a Chicago-area cleric, Abdul-Latif has been outspoken against terrorism, and has argued that "war, terrorism and Islamophobia are a connected triple-evil."

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Comments [16]

P. webb

Although there is a clear justification to protect commercial flights from acts of terrorism there has to be a line drawn...a very clear line. What if there was a country (no doubt there is) that used babies to smuggle on some kind of explosive or other device that could be used in an act of terrorism? Do we then subject ALL babies to go through extensive security searches? Any kind of profiling, racial or otherwise runs the risk of perception by the person in charge. I have been mistaken for being Mexican and I also have been mistaken for Italian...(usually when I'm in the Northeast) but my true heritage is American Seminole Indian. Racial profiling is risky business in a democratic society and leaves too much authority to the profiler>

May. 20 2011 10:10 AM
Ruckweiler from Ocala, FL

Agree with many of the posters above. If this country is so awful then please feel free to return to the lands of Islam and your happiness will be assured. Islam, in all it's guises, has created this suspicion. Quick Question: What is the common denominator of all the terrorists and their supporters/sympathizers? Answer: Islam.

May. 15 2011 11:17 AM
eaagle from Texas

You don't like being singled out for your appearance? I can think of a few countries where you would fit right in. I am reasonably sure there are flights to those countries. Avail yourself of a one-way ticket to any one of them. You may be singled out on that flight as well, but rest assured, this will be the last time you are singled out while traveling in the USA.

Demerits for quoting someone from CAIR. I no more care to hear any of their one-sided drivel that I care to hear from bin laden. Oops, sorry - I don't think we'll be hearing from him anytime soon.

"If it had not been for the death of Osama bin Laden, I don't think these incidents would've happened," says the CAIR dude. Really? I think it started with his birth and came to a head when he launched the plot to drive airplanes into buildings in the name of Allah (who, by the way, is definitely not akbar). All his death did is remind us (thankfully) of how much work remains.

May. 12 2011 02:04 AM

Islam and/or Muslim are not "races" "racial profiling" dismissed.

May. 11 2011 06:16 PM
AJ from PA

Luggage has been checked for years...has nothing to do with your name. You are told that you aren't supposed to lock your luggage due to these luggage inspections.

I have been pulled out of line for further search...I am a blonde, brown eyed white maybe I was being profiled for being white? See how ridiculous that sounds? Where was my article? News flash...these are random.

Bottom line...if things are checking out I say check and double check to make sure! Better to be safe than sorry!

May. 11 2011 03:02 PM
Stephen Burke from Tennessee

If these types didn't try to stir things up every time they fly, there wouldn't be a problem. It seems very coincidental that these characters were going to the "Muslim Outreach seminar".
They should start raising hell with their "Muslim terrorist brothers"
These so called muslim leaders are planning the same take over (as an imam said in the '60s, through the wombs of our women) that is happening in Europe and England. Western Civilization will be destroyed by political correctness and the muslim enfada.

May. 11 2011 11:01 AM
Osamas Pajamas from Ramona, California, USA

Islamofascists don't like American "Islamophobia?" I believe we didn't like Typhoid Mary, either. So why don't the Islamofascists leave America? Because they are here to evangelize by fraud and convert by the sword, to make all of us into cookiecutter raghead ninnies, praying with our noses in the dirt and our axxes in the air --- like we're about to take it from Gawd up the old dirt road. Beat it, bad guys --- get out of America while your head is still attached to your neck.

May. 11 2011 01:42 AM

irony... victims 10 yrs later are Muslims! American Muslims were attacked, killed, and continuously demonized by fellow citizens - Osama's laughing that he's still turning American v American a decade later... and worst of all, by bringing out the worst in us - fear, hatred and anger. Had we banded together against Osama's extremism, rather than attacking and victimizing our neighbors, we would have gotten rid of him and his ideology long ago, but our attacks on good Muslims only gave his insanity some legitimacy amongst radicals. MLK Jr said you cannot fight hate with hate - the result is only more hate. We must acknowledge that ALL of us were attacked, Non-Muslim and Muslim Americans, and we have to be vigilant against those who are trying to perpetuate yet more hate amongst us now... Non-Muslim or Muslim. Our job is to ensure our children do not sound or act hateful - it is "Osama-like."

May. 10 2011 01:31 PM
Indian from USA

This is called Litigation Jihad, to drain the money, resources and exhaust the kafir system. Learn more about several jihads in

May. 10 2011 01:27 PM
Julie from Central NJ

Welcome to the post 9/11 world! It is what it is for well-known reasons.

May. 10 2011 01:01 PM
adamo from NYC

Its too bad we treat our bonafide religious leaders in this way.... no its not true Muslims like to play victim no one likes to be treated in this way.

How disorganized and huge our no fly lists are... and also the lists of those many people (mostly Muslims) who are interviewed (ie made to sit for hours) each and every time they fly. What are the standards of risk for getting on these lists? For getting off? No one knows.

When this imam checked out with security he then should have been allowed to fly instead of further punishing him for "looking Muslim" and forcing him to drive 10 hours and back to his meeting.

A real terrorist is not likely to stand out as he does.

So this is Security Theater.

May. 10 2011 12:52 PM

I guess we should continue to pull 85-year-old ladies out of line for random searches in order not to offend anyone.

May. 10 2011 08:38 AM

The fact that there were these other imams on the flight tells me this is not a case of racial profiling. But seriously - why is it that Muslims just seem to be out there to wail and whine as professional victims?

May. 10 2011 08:32 AM
Jean Louise Dell'Aquila from october 6

race origin color all discriminated against in a racist bigoted country. Why did you count more than the natives enduring not only genocide butt also extermination physical & cultural. Don't you know what empire is about...uplifting strength by denuding you of yours...for that you belly ache rather than walk upright asking with your hand cupped arms extended rather than giving a straight response even in the face of rejection. There is big time rejection for big time shirkers.

May. 10 2011 07:01 AM
Michael Meltzer

When we finally have become as nutsy and paranoid as a terrorist, the terrorists will have won.

May. 10 2011 06:09 AM

I am from, a small country that even ban any type of weapon usage. I was attending a UN youth summit in New York. At London airport I was not allowed to be in the connecting flight and was told to wait for the next flight although I think they allowed passengers who were behind me. When I arrived New York they called my name and I was told my bag did not arrive. When I got my bag I found the lock was removed. What was all this? The only thing I think is because of my first name Mohamed.

May. 10 2011 04:46 AM

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