UK Muslims Condemn Flights Phobia

"I think that what happened is just hugely irrational and people need to get their senses back into order," said Birmingham Labour Muslim MP Khalid Mahmood.

UK Muslims Condemn Flights Phobia
British Muslim leaders have condemned the removal of two men from a flight before it took off from the Spanish port of Malaga for the English city of Manchester on the basis of their ethnicity and color, The Guardian newspaper reported on Monday, August 21.

"I think that what happened is just hugely irrational and people need to get their senses back into order," said Birmingham Labour Muslim MP Khalid Mahmood.

"You can't just accuse anybody who's of Asian appearance and treat them like a terrorist.

"People just need to calm down. Hysteria doesn't do anybody any good," said England's first Muslim MP.

Last week, some of the 150 passengers on board the Monarch Airlines flight demanded that air staff remove two men after they expressed alarm about their behavior, a spokesman for the airline said on Sunday, August 20.

The pair were wearing leather jackets and thick jumpers, speaking what was believed to be Arabic and repeatedly checking their watches.

Cabin crew informed Spanish authorities of the passengers' fears and the men — who apparently looked Asian — were taken off the flight and questioned by police.

The two flew back to Manchester later in the week and were not arrested by British police.

"While it is sensible for all of us to be vigilant, it is not sensible to pick on Muslims simply because they happen to dress differently or appear to be speaking to each other in Arabic," said Muhammad Abdul Bari, head of the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain.

Last week, British Muslims reacted angrily at government plans to single out passengers at airports for security checks based on ethnicity and religion, saying that such a "terror profile" mounted to racism.

Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has sparked a controversy when he recently called for "passenger profiling" on flights.

Writing in the News of the World, he said airport chaos could be cut by more rigorous checks for "young Muslim men".

Says Who?

Mahmood said it was "absolutely disgraceful" that passengers had taken it on themselves to label people.

"That is not what we want. The color of your skin shouldn't identify what you are. It is a sad state of affairs that that has happened."

He called for air passengers to understand that once people were allowed through security "they should be OK".

David Reynolds, from the British Airline Pilots Association, said there were very tight procedures in place to ensure only the "right sort of people" boarded flights.

"Clearly, we can't have a situation where one passenger decides that another passenger isn't going to fly," he said.

The Sunday Times revealed Sunday, August 20, that British security officers are being trained by US experts in monitoring passenger behavior at airports.

The "behavior detection squads" will patrol terminals to monitor the gestures, conversations, facial expressions of passengers, and spot those who may be concealing fear or anxiety.

"War on Muslims"

The Islamic Human Rights Commission blamed the removal of the two men on "ever-increasing Islamophobia."

Describing the incident as "sad and shocking," Ghayasuddin Siddiqui of the Muslim Parliament of Britain is alarmed that the move could solidify claims that the global war on terror is actually a war on Muslims and their faith.

"The greatest danger is that the extremists have succeeded in convincing Muslims and Arabs that the war on terror isn't a war on terror but a war on Islam and Muslims," he said.

Siddiqui said proper intelligence is the only way to nip in the bud potential terrorist threats.

"We have got to find a better way where somebody's look is not the basis for this kind of action - it has to be more intelligence-led," he said.

The flight phobia aroused after police arrested earlier this month 24 British-born Muslims, mainly of Pakistani origin, under suspicion of planning to blow up airliners bound for the United States with liquid explosives disguised as drinks.

Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Ali Desai, one of Britain's top Muslim police officers, said last week that he feared the xenophobia could lead to a new offence in Britain called "traveling whilst Asian."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16