Ahmed Tharwat is the host of a weekly show on Twin Cities Public Television (Ch. 17). In “Ahmed Tharwat: Imams at airport should have known better” in the Star Tribune (thanks to Paul), he ascribes the USAirways/Imam Rage controversy to American “paranoia” — and completely misrepresents the facts of the case.
From the view of Americans widely known for their ethnocentric and Islam-phobic tendencies, the imams “seemed angry,” as a passenger explained in a police statement. The patriotic passenger continued, “The men then chanted ‘Allah, Allah, Allah.’ And, “They spoke Arabic again.”
Any outraged Muslims should be aware that in a post-9/11 Islamic-phobic country, Muslims with huge untrimmed beards should just not pray in the boarding area at an airport. Period.
As Muslims, we should be the ones who are extremely cautious about traveling by air with paranoid Americans. As for me, I don’t really care what the First Amendment says or entitles you to. I do not care if the time of prayer was called or not. According to my only imam (my dad), a Muslim when traveling can always pray all five daily prayers in the comfort of home upon arrival. The prophet followed this guideline, even though he was among his own devoted followers, not a suspicious and paranoid airport crowd.
You just cannot display that degree of poor judgment as a Muslim, let alone as an imam, whom other Muslims expect to exhibit social prudence. This is an era in which we can assume that Muslims are profiled, some have their phones monitored, and others may be followed or watched when they are praying at mosques, all in the interest of the safety of the flying public. What are you thinking when you pray at the airport itself?
What happened at the airport to those six imams is not a lack of legal rights and a First Amendment issue. This is a lack of common sense and poor judgment issue. Those imams are supposedly teaching us through sermons at every Friday prayer how to behave as a Muslim living in a hostile time.
Those six imams’ biggest blunder was not just praying together at the airport but being there together. Bushra Khan, spokeswoman for CAIR’s Arizona chapter, said, “All these men did was pray … and that scares some people.” Please count me in; I would be too, but not because this type of behavior indicates a terrorist tendency, but rather a stupidity tendency. In this post-9/11 era, when I travel, I am always clean-shaven; I leave my prayer rug and my nail clippers at home along with my feta cheese and cans of fava beans. I don’t even pray at a mosque, let alone at the airport. My biggest concern at the airport is not connecting with God Almighty but connecting with my flight. I stay quietly in the waiting area, watching CNN and Fox network news blasting “fair and balanced” coverage of Muslims around the world.
Oh, poor dear.
I don’t ask for special halal meals on the flight, but just quietly fish out any offending pork that may have found its way into my entree. And when they ask me to take off my shoes, I understand it is time for a security check and not time for prayer.
What a load of self-pitying hogwash. “All these men did was pray … and that scares some people”? Please count me out. The imams still haven’t explained why they asked for seat-belt extensions they didn’t need. Nor have they explained why they took seats on the plane in a pattern that has been identified in past terror attacks. Nor have they explained their other suspicious behavior. And ignoring all this, Ahmed Tharwat can pretend it’s all about paranoia, in painting a victimology scenario that some are certain to accept eagerly, no matter how fantastic and trumped-up it is.