Originally created 11/22/06

Muslims' removal stirs inquiry



MINNEAPOLIS - The Council on American-Islamic Relations called Tuesday for an investigation into the behavior of airline staff and airport security in the removal of six Muslim scholars from a US Airways flight a day earlier.

A passenger raised concerns about the imams - three of whom said their normal evening prayers in the airport terminal before boarding the Phoenix-bound plane, according to one - through a note passed to a flight attendant, according to Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for US Airways.

"We are concerned that crew members, passengers and security personnel may have succumbed to fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam," Nihad Awad, the council's executive director, said in a news release.

The six were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, said Omar Shahin of Phoenix, president of the group.

"They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way," Mr. Shahin said after the incident.

Mr. Shahin said Tuesday that three members of the group prayed in the terminal before the six boarded the plane. They entered individually, except for one member who is blind and needed to be guided, Mr. Shahin said. After boarding the plane, the six did not sit together, he said.

"We did nothing" on the plane, he said.

The six were among passengers who boarded Flight 300, bound for Phoenix, about 6:30 p.m. Monday, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said.