I'm getting very tired of hearing all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how horribly these Imams were treated by airline and Homeland Security personnel. Let's have a bit of a reality check.
1) the passengers who reported the Imams to the flight attendant included someone who spoke and understood Arabic...so he know what they were saying. There was no confusion about prayer being misinterpreted.
2) the Imams requested seatbelt extenders but did not appear to need them (based on their girth)
3) the Imams took seats in 3 separate areas of the plane instead of taking their assigned seats and were asked to return to their seats.
4) part of the overheard discussion in Arabic included harsh criticism of America and it's role in Iraq and "doing his duty to the Qu'oran (sp?)
Yes, people have the right to pray in public, and to voice their opinions, but if you're in Harlem and you're discussing the inferiority of the African Americans and how to honor the heritage of your white ancestors, you might just be singled out. Likewise, if they had been in the Tel Aviv airport they would have been singled out much more quickly than they were in Minnesota.
Adults, regardless of ethnic, religious or social groupings need to behave with common sense.
They were embarrassed by their treatment, undoubtedly, but they were not injured and anyone behaving in this manner but speaking English may well have had the same issues.
In this time of high sensitivity to terrorism some profiling is neccessary even if we wish to hide our heads in the sand and deny it's being done. I doubt the Dept of Homeland Security and Airport Security do. The public outcry generated by overzealous reporters looking for a story played their public audience like a cheap violin. Shame on them, and shame on us