Islamophobia and Flying While Muslim

I have just finished reading a news article in which two imams were kicked off a flight in Memphis for the offense of “flying while Muslim.” Even though the two men were subjected to extra scrutiny at the security gate and cleared to fly by the TSA, the pilot of the Delta flight ordered them off the plane anyway.

This is, unfortunately, a continuing pattern we see with Muslims and airlines.

Frankly, I understand people are afraid. But is this fear really rational, and do airline staff have the right to disrupt someone’s vacation or business trip simply because they don’t like someone’s choice of religion? Some people might say it’s better to be safe than sorry and the airline staff are justified.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I happen to be acrophobic, which is the fear of heights. More specifically, I am aero-acrophobic, which is the fear of open high places (I have no problem if I’m looking out a window). I know my fear is irrational. It used to cause me a great deal of discomfort in an office building in which I used to work that featured an open walkway that spanned an open, 8-story tall atrium. It took an effort to traverse the walkway, and even then I had to stay in the middle because I couldn’t bring myself to walk close to the edge overlooking the expanse.

But why is acrophobia irrational? Everyone knows you can die falling from a high place. It happens frequently. It’s irrational, because the fear isn’t really in proportion to the actual danger. Yes, you can die from a nasty fall. But unless the walkway were to collapse, I was hardly in any real danger.

Now, let’s get back to the subject, which is the fear of Muslim passengers on an airline flight. Is it rational to fear any and all Muslim passengers? To me, ejecting a Muslim from a flight simply because they are Muslim is like having acrophobia. So let’s call it for what it really is: “Islamophobia”.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Islamophobia and Flying While Muslim

  1. Johnny B

    I am a white southern atheist male and am outraged at the treatment these two Imams received by ASA. Their privaledge to fly should not have been based on religious bigotry or fear of the choice of wardrobe. Had I been on that flight and known what was happening to these two AMERICANS I would have exited the plane in protest.

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