January 2, 2009 | 4:17 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
If you’ve seen “Harold and Kumar 2: Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” or if you’ve watched the trailer above, you can imagine how this whole scene went down. The end result is a familiar one: a family full of observant Muslims, meaning the men sported beards and the women wore headscarves, was kicked off a flight because another passenger mistook an innocuous statement for terrorist talk. The Washington Post explains:
Kashif Irfan, one of the removed passengers, said the incident began about 1 p.m. after his brother, Atif, and his brother’s wife wondered aloud about the safest place to sit on an airplane.
“My brother and his wife were discussing some aspect of airport security,” Irfan said. “The only thing my brother said was, ‘Wow, the jets are right next to my window.’ I think they were remarking about safety.”
Irfan said he and the others think they were profiled because of their appearance. He said five of the six adults in the party are of South Asian descent, and all six are traditionally Muslim in appearance, with the men wearing beards and the women in headscarves. Irfan, 34, is an anesthesiologist. His brother, 29, is a lawyer. Both live in Alexandria with their families, and both were born in Detroit. They were traveling with their wives, Kashif Irfan’s sister-in-law, a friend and Kashif Irfan’s three sons, ages 7, 4 and 2.
AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson agreed that the incident amounted to a misunderstanding. But he defended AirTran’s handling of the incident, which he said strictly followed federal rules. And he denied any wrongdoing on the airline’s part.
“At the end of the day, people got on and made comments they shouldn’t have made on the airplane, and other people heard them,” Hutcheson said. “Other people heard them, misconstrued them. It just so happened these people were of Muslim faith and appearance. It escalated, it got out of hand and everyone took precautions.”
Irfan said he and the others think they were profiled because of their appearance. I can’t imagine there is much doubt about it. Yes, security is, as an FAA spokeswoman says in the article, “everyone’s responsibility.” But so is discernment.
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