MEMPHIS – Two Muslim clerics traveling to a religious conference were kicked off a Delta Air Lines flight this morning at Memphis International Airport, on orders from a pilot. Imam Mohamed Zaghloul of the Masjid An-Noor Mosque and Imam Masoud Rahman, a previous imam of the Muslim Society of Memphis, were subjected to extra security screening at the gate, then barred from the flight, Rahman said.
The men cleared security at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint and boarded their plane. “They were screened and cleared to fly,” said TSA spokesman Jon Allen. “The decision to deny boarding was made by the airline, not TSA,” Allen said.
The men, dressed in traditional Muslim cleric garb including skullcaps, were traveling to the North American Islamic Jurisprudence Council in Charlotte.
The plane left the gate, then returned, and the clerics were told to get off, said Rahman, 35. Delta was apologetic for the pilot’s actions and put the clerics on a later flight. They arrived too late for prayer and the conference’s opening activities, Rahman said.
“I don’t know what kind of pilot he was, I don’t know his mentality,” he said. “I think some action should be taken so this won’t happen with other people, any religion, any person, any professional.” (It won’t happen with anyone else, ONLY Muslims)
“It is something ridiculous,” added the Indian-born imam. “It does not happen in any country, and this is a civilized society.” (But Muslims aren’t)
Nabil Bayakly, chairman of Muslims in Memphis, said, “Both of them are good friends of mine, and I know how mild-mannered they are. I think the pilot has been really obstinate.” (Too bad)
“They are imams,” Bayakly said. “They are religious figures. They usually wear the traditional Muslim gowns and head covers. Just like what the pope would wear or the Orthodox Jew would wear.” (Catholic priests and Orthodox Jews don’t blow up planes)
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the TERRORIST FRONT GORUP CAIR – Council on American Islamic Relations – said the men called the council after the incident. Hooper said his group would review the incident to see if further action is warranted. (Another CAIR lawsuit of course)
Calling it a “Juan Williams thing,” a reference to the fired PBS correspondent who said he was leery of flying with people in Muslim garb, Hooper added, “I think it’s possible the whole bin Laden situation factored into this with heightened sensitivity all around.”
This isn’t the first time this happened in Memphis with Delta.