AP International Herald Tribune 11/21/06

MINNEAPOLIS: A Muslim cleric on Tuesday called for a boycott of US Airways, and an Islamic advocacy group called for an investigation, after the cleric and five other imams were removed in handcuffs from one of the carrier’s flights shortly after three performed their evening prayer ritual.

Omar Shahin’s call followed the airline’s refusal to sell the six men tickets on another flight after they were forced off the Phoenix-bound Flight 300 Monday evening, an incident the Council on American Islamic Relations said may be linked to a persistent “fear and prejudice against Muslims in the United States.

US Airways flight crews should take “sensitivity training” and learn the difference between Muslims and radical Islamic terrorists, said Bushra Khan, a spokeswoman for CAIR’s chapter in Phoenix where the group held a press conference Tuesday.

“The fact that this very small group (terrorists) has hijacked our religion is not going to deter us from speaking out,” Khan said, in a reference to the Sept. 11, hijackers and other terrorists. “Prayer is not a suspicious or criminal activity.”

The group had been in Minneapolis for the North American Imams Federation conference and were returning home. At the airport terminal, three of them performed their normal evening prayers and boarded the flight individually, except for one of the clerics who is blind and needed a guide, Shahin said.

“Is to practice your faith and pray a crime in America? This is a real problem,” Shahin said at an impromptu news conference Tuesday at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“How would you guys feel if six pastors or rabbis were removed from a Saudi or Egyptian Arabic airplane?” said Ahmad Shqeirat, another of the ejected imams.

Full article:International Herald Tribune