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Jewish World Review
May 8, 2007
/ 20 Iyar, 5767
Will Islamist-front groups succeed in pressuring pols to silence ordinary Americans on guard against terrorism?
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
On the Amtrak train to New York a few minutes ago, the conductor announced, "If you see anything suspicious, please report it to the authorities immediately." If Islamist-front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its friends in Congress have their way, however, this sensible, prudential announcement will have to be amended: "Be advised: If you do make such a report, you may be sued."
Could it really come to this? It could, if the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives gets away with an effort to deep-six legislation approved last month with the support of 109 of their caucus' members.
According to a Republican memo circulated before the vote, that legislation is designed to ensure that "any person that voluntarily reports suspicious activity anything that could be a threat to transportation security" will be granted immunity from civil liability for the disclosure." It "authorizes courts to award attorneys' fees to defendants with immunity" and would apply retroactively to activities that took place on or after November 20, 2006.
That date is significant, of course, since it was the day when six Arizona-based Muslim clerics were removed in Minneapolis from an aircraft operated by US Air. The deplaning occurred after fellow passengers did what my conductor urged those on his train to do: They reported suspicious behavior.
The six Islamist clerics now universally known as the Flying Imams reportedly engaged in behavior that seemed designed to trigger alarms. Such behavior is said to have included: praying ostentatiously before boarding the plane, changing seats to sit in pairs in unassigned seats (by some accounts in a pattern reminiscent of some terrorists' modus operandi), making loud statements in Arabic that appear to have included derogatory comments about America and requesting unneeded seat-belt-extenders which can, in a pinch, be used as weapons.
Following understandable expressions of concern by as-yet-unidentified fellow passengers, the crew consulted with airline and local and federal police. The decision was taken to remove the imams. In a lawsuit filed in March by CAIR on behalf of the imams, these "well-respected, religious leaders…felt degraded, humiliated and dejected as they were led before airport patrons and passengers who looked at them as if they were criminals." In addition to suing US Air, CAIR is going after unspecified "John Does" namely, yet-to-be-served passengers, flight attendants and airport personnel the Islamist organization contends acted "with an intent to discriminate."
Some perceive in the imams' behavior and CAIR's effort to capitalize on the response it fortunately and predictably precipitated an intention to use our civil liberties to diminish America's preparedness and capacity for dealing with domestic threats. At the very least, this caper plays into the hands of CAIR as it promotes another piece of legislation, the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) of 2005 whose original co-sponsors were two prominent leftists in Congress, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
Now, "racial profiling" like the "intent to discriminate" are in many cases highly subjective calls. And claims of such wrongdoing are especially suspect coming from the likes of CAIR. After all, as the invaluable Center for Vigilant Freedom makes clear, this organization (which was established by a Hamas front group known as the Islamic Association for Palestine) is feverishly seeking to demonstrate that Muslims in America are being victimized.
In fact, in a speech to the Muslim ADAMS Center on April 27, 2007 and transcribed by Vigilant Freedom, CAIR's executive director, Nihad Awad, declared: "There were 196 cases reported by the Justice Department for Muslims in civil rights cases. There were over 1008 cases reported by the Jewish faith. We need to do a much better job not only in recognizing our civil rights but also in reporting it to the government. [It] is very critical and very important….We really feel our community is more targeted. 54% this is one of CAIR's surveys 54% of all Muslims surveyed said they had been subject to discrimination. 54%, which if you put numbers down, we're talking about tens of thousands of cases, not dozens, as is reported in the Justice Department's annual report."
In other words, it serves CAIR's purposes to portray Muslims as victims. Imams who behave suspiciously are victims. And other Muslims who fail to report their victimhood are undermining the efforts CAIR and its ilk are making to secure not just equal treatment under the law but special rights (e.g., designated prayer rooms, cleansing facilities, Muslim-only hours for school gyms, etc.) In the process, they are inuring this democracy to the encroachment of a religious code known as shari'a law and the parallel society the Islamists seek to establish here, as elsewhere, enroute to the creation of Islamic states.
It is against this backdrop that Congress must enact legislation to protect "John Does" and, thereby, to protect us all. It is unacceptable that the Democratic leadership is seeking to prevent such an outcome through parliamentary sleight-of-hand by keeping the public in the dark about the make-up and timing of the conference committee that will hammer out differences between the House-passed legislation, which includes such protection, and the Senate bill that does not.
Every effort should be made to encourage our countrymen to report suspicious activities which may prove to be the difference between life and death for large numbers of us. And every effort at odds with that duty must be exposed to the harshest scrutiny and most vigorous opposition.
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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Comments by clicking here.
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