Roula Allouch of Hamas-linked CAIR is worried about “Islamophobia” in airports because, she claims, people sometimes give her “a hard, strong stare and a stern look.” Horror of horrors! People give me “a hard, strong stare and a stern look” in airports all the time; I’ve always thought that it was because they weren’t thinking about me at all, but were preoccupied with making their flight and other pressing matters. But Roula Allouch appears sure that everyone who doesn’t give her a cheery grin is an “Islamophobe” who quietly disapproves of her hijab, and of course, she knows better.
The claim that Muslims are singled out for special examination or harassment in airports is wholly baseless. Many who claim they were persecuted for “Flying While Muslim” really were acting suspiciously — here is a case in point.
Roula Allouch gets stern looks? Oh, the humanity! If she really wants to know what it’s like to be gratuitously harassed while flying, let her declare that she doesn’t think Islam is a religion of peace. For well over a year now, every time I fly American Airlines, which up until recently has been almost every week, I’ve been subjected to extensive and time-consuming extra security checks. This never happened when I flew any other airline, only American — but I was a Platinum frequent flyer on American, so it happened often.
After repeated inquiries, I finally found it that it was because American Airlines and British Airways are partner airlines, and British Airways was requiring that I be subjected to these extra security checks to make sure I wasn’t flying to Britain. I am, of course, banned by the British government from traveling to Britain because I noted (correctly) that Islam is “a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers.” I wasn’t banned for any criminal activity and have no criminal record. It is, moreover, perfectly clear from my flight ticket in every case that I am not traveling to Britain. Hence these extra security checks to make sure I am not flying to Britain simply constitute harassment, mandated by British Airways and perpetrated by American Airlines.
I wrote to American Airlines explaining the situation, noting that I had been a loyal and frequent customer for many years, and asking that they stop the extra security checks. All I got back was a form letter. So apparently American Airlines only wants the business of those who believe Islam is a religion of peace. Very well. I will go elsewhere, and I hope you will, too, and avoid American Airlines whenever possible.
That’s harassment: Flying While Counter-Jihad. A stern look in an airport, Ms. Allouch? That’s not harassment.
I am happily writing this post while utilizing in-flight Internet on a Delta Airlines flight.
“Flying While Muslim: A Civil Rights Advocate on Travel Right Now,” by Diane Daniel, New York Times, September 28, 2016:
Roula Allouch, 36, is a Cincinnati lawyer and the chairwoman of the national board of directors of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the nation’s largest civil rights and advocacy groups for the American Muslim community. Raised in Kentucky, she is a member of the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative for the Middle East and North Africa. Ms. Allouch’s parents emigrated to the United States from Syria in the 1970s. Following are edited excerpts from a conversation with Ms. Allouch.
Q. The term “flying while Muslim,” a variation of the expression “driving while black,” implies that Muslims are hassled during air travel because of their religion or ethnicity. Is this a major concern?
A. Our main concerns during this time of heightened Islamophobia are mosque attacks, bullying against students and traveling — they’re equally discussed. More and more people are being deplaned because they’re Muslim. For instance, one student was asked to leave a flight because he was speaking Arabic. What seems to be happening frequently is if another passenger on the plane has a complaint, the person they’re complaining about is asked to deboard. We’re a country that operates with civil rights. It’s very arbitrary and very troubling.
You wear a hijab and fly often for work. Do you feel you’re treated differently?
It’s one of the most subtle things, but it stays with you. I feel people’s tension. When I’m walking down the aisle and people look up, they give a different expression than when it’s another person. There are people who give me a hard, strong stare and a stern look. But there also are people who go out of their way to give me a smile.
Does the Council on American-Islamic Relations offer advice to air travelers?
We refer people to our “Know Your Rights” booklet, which includes rights as an airline passenger. But even when you know your rights, you’re in a vulnerable position, especially if you have children with you. With the family that was recently asked to leave a flight out of Chicago, the woman said they agreed because they wanted to protect their children.
Have you changed any of your behaviors?
In the past year, I have because I’m worried about perceptions. For instance I’m mindful of when I speak Arabic. Or [when] I was late for a connection and was running through O’Hare — try “running through airport while Muslim” — and people looked at me noticeably differently than the other woman making the same connection. Some actually stopped in their tracks….