Lawsuits accuse airlines of profiling
By Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Five men who say they were barred from airline flights because they appeared to be Arabs will sue four airlines today, their lawyers said.
The lawsuits accuse the airlines of discrimination unrelated to security, the American Civil Liberties Union says. The lawsuits by four U.S. citizens and a legal resident will be filed in federal court in Washington, New York and Los Angeles by the ACLU and Relman & Associates, a Washington, D.C. civil rights law firm, the ACLU said.
The cases involve men who appear to be of Arab descent and who had been cleared through security, but were removed from flights or denied boarding, lawyers familiar with the case said Monday.
The law firm and the ACLU said they would identify their clients today.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Council on American-Islamic Relations say that they have documented an increasing number of incidents of profiling at airports since the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center on Sept. 11. In its human rights report issued April 30, CAIR recorded 191 alleged incidents.
In one case expected to be filed today, Arshad Chowdhury, an MBA student who in October had visited a friend in California, was returning to school in Pittsburgh on a Northwest Airlines flight when he was pulled for a series of security checks.
Chowdhury was cleared by law enforcement officials, but he says a flight attendant barred him from boarding. The attendant said, "I'm sorry, sir. This won't make sense to you, but you can't fly with us," he said in an interview with The Nation magazine.
Chowdhury could not be reached for comment Monday.
Northwest officials say they have been in contact with Chowdhury's attorney, Christy Lopez of Relman & Associates for several months and have investigated his claims. The airline acted within Federal Aviation Administration security guidelines when it refused to board Chowdhury, Northwest spokesman Bill Mellon said.
"The action was not based on his ethnic background," Mellon said, but because "Northwest's pilot received conflicting information about whether authorities had cleared him to fly," Mellon said, not because of his ethnic background. Northwest rebooked Chowdhury on a direct flight once the airline received official clearance, Mellon said.
Relman & Associates also represents U.S. Secret Service Agent Wallid Shatter, who has complained that an American Airlines pilot refused to allow him to board a flight from Baltimore to Dallas. American Airlines said the armed agent presented sloppy paperwork. The agent has not filed a lawsuit.
We always hear how the terrorist represent a small fraction of the Arab and Islamic world. If that's true then how about getting the
MAJORITY of the Islamic and Arab world to stop this bullsh!t terrorist crap at the source - THERE OWN COUNTRIES! Quite frankly I haven't seen any outcry of support from these orginizations for the USA. All I ever see is "death to america" chants and "were profiling them" garbage. Well, GET USE TO IT! Until you people can actually show that you are a majority and stamp out the terrorizm and stand up for the USA your whinning is falling on deaf ears