- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) doesn’t have much tolerance for a robust media. Legitimate reporters and editors in America disdain propaganda as news, and politicians, advocates, churchmen, celebrities and just about everybody else of whatever stripe understands that. This is a lesson our Muslim brothers will learn sooner or later as they become accustomed to life in America.

CAIR summoned reporters to its Capitol Hill headquarters to announce that a group of imams are filing suit against US Airways and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission, claiming that the “flying imams” were barred from a flight last November “on the basis of their perceived race, religion, color, ethnicity, alienate, ancestry and national origin.” CAIR employed Martin Luther King’s language from the civil-rights struggle to suggest that the imams were victims of stereotyping and mistreatment. “When anyone’s rights are diminished, the rights of all Americans are threatened,” said CAIR Director Nihad Awad. Fair enough as rhetoric, we suppose, though Dr. King never tried to use the rituals of his faith to intimidate anyone.

CAIR and the “flying imams” are unhappy with this newspaper’s coverage of the incident, and especially with Audrey Hudson, who first reported that witnesses and law-enforcement officials contradicted the imams’ assertions that they were merely praying before their flight. Witnesses said three of the imams were praying loudly in the concourse, repeatedly shouting “Allah,” when passengers were called for their flight to Phoenix.

Passengers and flight attendants said the imams switched from their assigned seats to seat themselves in a pattern reminiscent of the September 11 attacks. One air marshal called the seating arrangement “alarming” because the imams “now control all of the entry and exit routes to the plane.” Witnesses and law-enforcement officials said the imams exhibited behavior associated with a “security probe” — when terrorists take certain preliminary steps to see how law-enforcement and security officials react.

Several days after Miss Hudson’s dispatch appeared in this newspaper in December, Mr. Awad scolded The Washington Times in an interview with the Arab News, an English-language Saudi newspaper, for “falling below journalistic standards and decency.” He was unhappy not for misstatements of fact, but particularly because Miss Hudson quoted Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and a Muslim critic of CAIR. The organization is no doubt unhappy as well with S.A. Miller’s story in The Times on Monday, noting that Rep. Bill Pascrell, New Jersey Democrat, had reserved a room in the Capitol for a CAIR event, though the organization has been associated with fairly suspicious characters, including several who have been sent to prison for their involvement with jihadist terror networks. CAIR doesn’t like such coverage, but reporting the news is what newspapers do. The way to stop unfavorable coverage is to straighten up and fly right. Shooting the messenger, as any successful American advocacy group could tell them, never works.

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