CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) has most recently been in the news jumping to the defense of the six flying imams . The incident from all appearances was a stunt designed to extort money from the airline and/or gain support for the End Racial Profiling Act. Katherine Kersten makes the case:
On Dec. 1, a curious report on the grounded-imams incident at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport appeared on the website of the Iranian Quran News Agency. The report quoted extensively from Madhi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation. The foundation is the American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, "the world's most influential Islamic fundamentalist group," according to the Chicago Tribune.
Bray's initial statement about the incident had an all-American, see-you-in-court ring. He demanded "large financial compensation for the imams," adding, "We want US Airways and any other airline displaying this type of behavior against Muslims to be hit where it hurts, the pocketbook."
But the report on the Iranian website, which has appeared on a variety of Muslim websites worldwide, had a larger primary focus. After the imams incident, it quoted Bray as saying Muslims want "new, broad-sweeping legislation that will extract even larger financial and civil penalties for any airline that participates in racial and religious profiling."
The report is optimistic that Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, will lend his support to new legislation. Ellison, it says, has expressed his opposition to "such racial and religious profiling." Ellison, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
One piece of legislation in the works is the End Racial Profiling Act. It is an important priority of Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, whose district includes one of the largest Muslim populations in the country. Conyers introduced the bill in 2004 and 2005, but it went nowhere. Now the alignment of forces may be changing. Conyers will probably be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when the new Democratic-controlled Congress convenes next month.
Nancy Pelosi, who called herself a "proud" cosponsor of the Profiling Act in 2004, is the incoming House speaker. And in January, Ellison, who represents the district where the imams incident occurred, will take his seat in Congress.
I think we get the drift. CAIR is also urging Muslims to file complaints against the airlines "if they feel discriminated against".
"Given the increase in the number of complaints CAIR has received alleging airport profiling of American Muslims, we believe it is important that all those taking part in this year's hajj be aware of their legal and civil rights," said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman.
The group has established a toll-free hot line (800/784-7526) for victims of "flying while Muslim," as Muslims have begun departing for the weeklong hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime obligation to visit the holy city of Mecca, which this year begins Dec. 29.
(This sounds like a good time to install cameras on all airplanes flying into or out of the United States, which I have suggested to my Senators.)
CAIR is representing the six imams removed from a US Airways flight last month and has asked for a meeting with the airline to seek an out-of-court settlement. It maintains that police and witness reports detailing the imams unusual behavior before their removal last month were ethnically and/or religiously motivated.
The imams say they were praying and did not, as the reports say, change seats and make remarks critical of President Bush and the Iraq war.
Pilots and air marshals called the incident a "PC probe" to intimidate passengers and crew from reporting suspicious behavior by Muslim passengers and are fearful the incident will set off a domino effect of lawsuits.
Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, thinks this is a ploy to extort money from the airlines.
"I think CAIR is soliciting complaints, and if they don't get it, they will make it up," said Miss Burlingame, who is also a director for the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation.
I agree with Debra Burlingame, CAIR is soliciting complaints. But I believe they are over-playing their hand, that is assuming Americans are paying attention. If my personal experience is any indication, too many Americans are not paying attention. Which gets us back to Mark Levin's statement above, We must become more informed about this group and its mission. Those of us who don't depend on the main-stream media for the news are relatively well informed about CAIR. There are many, many bloggers who are up-to-speed on CAIR and its mission. Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch, Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, just to name a few.
Help is coming from at least one Muslim organization:
But M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), said the announcement by CAIR "continues the tired stoking of the flames of victimization."
"They are unfortunately exploiting, for purely political reasons, what should be a sacred and purely spiritual story of our faith's annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca," Dr. Jasser said.
"We need new leadership and organizations which use their passions and the bandwidth of the media to lead the ideological fight against radical and political Islam rather than this tired pre-emption of supposed discrimination."
I'm not familiar with AIFD but this, from their website, looks promising:
AIFD seeks to make a small contribution to the body of thought which articulates an understanding of Islam which separates religion and state and is in complete harmony with the U.S. Constitution and our citizenship pledge.
Any contribution is helpful and AIFD would have to shout from the rooftops to drown out CAIR, but with a little encouragement maybe they can make their voices heard.
Organizations like CAIR are hell-bent on setting the agenda for America. Their known ties to terrorists should be cause enough to shut them down.
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has stated flatly that CAIR "has ties to terrorism." Sen. Schumer has special disdain for Awad and CAIR's other co-founder, Omar Ahmad, saying in a 2003 hearing that both men have "intimate connections with Hamas."
And CAIR operates freely in the United States, threatening airlines and intimidating everybody else.
It's hard sometimes to have any optimism whatsoever about the future of our country. The War on Terror is the most important, but it's just one concern among many that threaten our liberty. The Democrats are more determined than ever to turn the United States into a nanny state and there are way too many Americans
anxious willing to let them do it. Thomas Sowell, whose "books and columns have been a source of inspiration to many lovers of freedom" has not given up (h/t Power Line):
All the dark and ominous times that this country and the world have passed through and overcome in the past 75 years make it hard to despair, even in the face of growing signs of internal degeneracy today. Pessimism, yes. Despair, not yet.