Last week we read about a Muslim family that was removed from an Air Tran flight because of “inappropriate comments” that in fact are similar to questions many newbie flyers ask, regardless of age, race, or religious background.
Now comes news that an Iraqi blogger and U.S. resident has been awarded $240,000 in a lawsuit stemming from a 2006 incident in which TSA officials prevented him from boarding a JetBlue flight while wearing a shirt with Arabic script. Raed Jarrar was waiting to board a flight to California at JFK Airport when two TSA officials approached him and demanded he change his shirt, which said “We will not be silent” in Arabic and in English. Wearing that t-shirt in an airport was, they said, “like wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘I am a robber’ and going to a bank.” (Read the entire account on Jarrar’s blog.)
As with last week’s incident, the problem for TSA and JetBlue employees wasn’t the t-shirt so much as the man wearing it. I’m pretty sure if I boarded a flight wearing a shirt with Arabic script, no one would bat an eye. They might even compliment my Rachel Ray keffiyeh.