Seks imamer som vakte medpassasjerenes mistanke og ble tatt av et fly, har gått til sak mot de som klaget. Samferdselsmyndighetene er redd det kan skremme folk fra å si fra om mistenkelige ting, hvis de skulle vinne frem.
Det var sist høst i Minneapolis at passasjerene ble urolige over seks imamer som kom rett fra en islamsk konferanse.
Six Muslim men removed from a plane last fall after being accused of suspicious behavior are suing not only the airline but the passengers who complained — a move some fear could discourage travelers from speaking up when they see something unusual.
The civil rights lawsuit, filed earlier this month, has so alarmed some lawyers that they are offering to defend the unnamed «John Doe» passengers free of charge. They say it is vital that the flying public be able to report suspicious behavior without fear of being dragged into court.
«When you drive up the road towards the airport, there’s a big road sign that says, `Report suspicious behavior,'» said Gerry Nolting, a Minneapolis lawyer. «There’s no disclaimer that adds, `But beware if you do that, you might get sued.'»
The six imams were taken off a Phoenix-bound US Airways flight on Nov. 20 while returning home from a conference of Islamic clerics in Minneapolis.
Other passengers had gotten nervous when the men were seen praying and chanting in Arabic as they waited to board. Some passengers also said that the men spoke of
Saddam Hussein and cursed the United States; that they requested seat belt extenders with heavy buckles and stowed them under their seats; that they were moving about and conferring with each other during boarding; and that they sat separately in seats scattered through the cabin.
The plane was cleared for a security sweep, nothing was found, and the jet took off without the imams.
The Muslim clerics say they were humiliated, and are seeking unspecified damages from the airline, the Minneapolis airport and, potentially, the John Does.
Kongressen har tatt saken så alvorlig at de har fremsatt en lovendring som skal sørge for at rapporterte mistanker ikke kan gi grunn for søksmål, hvis vedkommende er i god tro.
Passengers sued over imams’ removal
Saken berører et spennende krysningsfelt mellom etnisk «profiling» og legitime sikkerhetsbehov. Hvem skal man ta mest hensyn til? Er det legitimt å innrapportere mistanker, selv om det skulle bli oppfattet som diskriminering? Eller for å gjøre det enda mer sofistikert: hva hvis de det reageres på har ekstreme oppfatninger, uten at de er involvert i terrorplaner, kan de da nyte godt av samme beskyttelse som alle andre? Eller må de finne seg mer kontroll?