Flying Imams’ Ship Comes In

October 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Paul Walsh and James Walsh

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Imams in Minneapolis airport.

A settlement has been reached in the “Flying Imams” federal lawsuit that was filed by six Muslim men who claim they were falsely arrested on a US Airways jet in the Twin Cities three years ago because of their religious and ethnic backgrounds.

According to federal court records, the settlement was reached Monday and filed with the court today.

A New York attorney for the imams, Omar Mohammedi, this afternoon called the settlement “satisfactory to the plaintiffs.” Mohammedi added that money is involved, but he declined to elaborate.

Another attorney for the imams, Frederick Goetz of Minneapolis, said a few details remained to be resolved before the settlement is finalized.

One of the imams, Marwan Sadeddin of Phoenix, told the Associated Press that the settlement does not include an apology but he considers it an acknowledgment that a mistake was made. He said he couldn’t divulge the terms because both sides had agreed not to discuss them publicly. “It’s fine for all parties. It’s been solved. … There is no need for a trial,” Sadeddin said.

Officials with the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), which operates the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and is a defendant in the suit, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon announcing the settlement.

“Law enforcement officials did what they believed was appropriate to ensure the safety of travelers based on the information available at the time,” said the MAC’s general counsel, Tom Anderson. “We will continue to be vigilant in maintaining the security of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the safety of travelers who use it.”

According to the statement by the MAC, “the commission’s liability insurance policy limits potential financial exposure in such cases to $50,000. The insurer has the right to assume control of the defense or settlement of claims and exercised that right in this case.”

Arizona-based U.S. Airways also is a defendant in the suit. The airline has yet to comment today.

CAIR, the Washington-based civil rights organization that took up the imams’ cause soon after they were removed from the plane, hailed the settlement.

“[This] is a clear victory for justice and civil rights over fear and the phenomenon of ‘flying while Muslim’ in the post-9/11 era,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

The case sparked ongoing debate about the power of law enforcement to override personal rights in the name of security.

The imams were arrested in November 2006 while returning from the North American Conference of Imams on a jet bound for Phoenix. A passenger had passed a note to a flight attendant noting what he considered suspicious activity.

FBI Special Agent Michael Cannizzaro and airport police officers had argued that the arrest and removal of the imams was valid because there were reasons to be suspicious of a crime.

In July, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery ruled that the suit could move forward.

“The right not to be arrested in the absence of probable cause is clearly established and, based on the allegations … no reasonable officer could have believed that the arrest of the Plaintiffs was proper,” Montgomery ruled then.

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Community News (V11-I31)

July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kent Displays Names Dr. Asad Khan Chief Technical Officer

KENT, OH– Kent Displays announced this week  the naming of Dr. Asad Khan as Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Dr. Khan replaces Dr. J. William Doane, a pioneer in reflective LCD technology and Director Emeritus of the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. Dr. Doane has moved to the role of Senior Advisor and will remain on Kent Displays’ Executive Committee.

Dr. Khan joined Kent Displays in 1995 as a Research Engineer. He has since held roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as the Vice President of Technology and as a member of the Executive Committee. He has published over 60 papers in U.S. and international journals and possesses over 15 U.S. and international patents (with several applications pending).

In his new role, Dr. Khan has primary responsibility for further development of Reflex(TM) No Power LCD technology, the foundation for which was built by Dr. Doane as cofounder of Kent Displays. Focus activities include authoring the development framework for Reflex technology to meet the overall company strategic plan, directing a growing internal team of scientists in the implementation of the framework, and playing the lead role in managing various strategic relationships with suppliers and joint development partners.

Kent Displays’ CEO Dr. Albert Green stated, “We have been exceptionally fortunate to have the services of two internationally-recognized LCD industry leaders in the CTO role, Dr. Doane and now Dr. Khan. As one of Kent Displays’ longest-tenured employees, Dr. Khan offers keen insight into the company’s history and vast experience in the display industry. This knowledge, combined with an extensive technical background, makes him the ideal individual to lead the development of Reflex technology for new and unique applications such as smart cards, electronic skins and writing tablets. We have great confidence in his ability to provide the necessary direction to take Reflex technology into these new frontiers and many others.”

Mosque opposed in Town of Niagara

TOWN OF NIAGARA, NY–The Islamic Cultural Center of Niagar Falls has sought permission from the town to construct a new mosque. The group wants to convert the old Credit Union building in order to meet the needs of the area’s growing Muslim population.

Earlier requests were already denied by the Planning Board. They have now been placed before the Town’s Board.

Town of Niagara allows places of worship only in residential zones and only with a special use permit. The property also would need a zoning variance because it does not have the proper amount of road frontage required.

A public hearing would need to be held prior to the property’s rezoning. However, town officials delayed scheduling one until the other concerns are addressed and worked out.

Walmart rehires Muslim employee

ST.PAUL, MN–A Muslim employee at Walmart fired for praying in the workplace premises has now been re-hired.

Abdi Abdi was fired in February from the Wal-Mart in Woodbury where he worked as a stocker and loader. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says a new supervisor fired him after instituting a ban on prayers during work breaks, even though a previous supervisor allowed him to do so.

The St. Paul-based Islamic rights group says Abdi was rehired at a St. Paul store that’s closer to his home. The group says he will be allowed to pray during breaks.

A spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer tells the Star Tribune that the company is “glad everyone came together to resolve the issue on a positive note.”

Madison mosque public hearing postponed to August 3

MADISON, MS– A public hearing on the construction of a mosque has been rescheduled for August 3rd in Madison, Mississipi. Roger Williams, an attorney representing the Mississippi Muslim Association in Jackson, asked the Madison County board of supervisors for a continuance of the hearing on June 7, saying the group needs more time to lay out plans for a sewer system for the property on U.S. 51.

“We thought we had reached an understanding with the city of Madison to provide sewer service to the property, because we thought it was located in the city’s certificated area,” he said.

“But last Thursday, we learned that the property was not in the city’s certificated area.” As defined by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, a certificated area is an area where the certificate holder cannot legally deny water and sewer service.

Now Williams said the group plans to install a private sewer system akin to a septic tank. “We felt it would be inappropriate to go to the board without all the information.”

Muslim charter school sues Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MN–The Tarek Bin Ziyad Academy has sued the state of Minnesota for unfairly fining it $1.4 million. In its recent complaint in Ramsey County Court, the Academy claims the Minnesota Department of Education fined it for violating teacher licensure law, but refused to provide enough documentation for the school to appeal. It claims the state made “a purposeful and calculated resistance” in withholding the files.

The academy was sued earlier this year by the ACLU which claimed which claimed the school was sponsored by Islamic Relief USA and was unconstitutionally receiving taxpayers’ money.

The ACLU claimed TIZA permitted and promoted Islamic prayer and rituals in school, in violation of Minnesota Charter School Law.

In June, TIZA appealed the Minnesota Department of Education’s “final determination letter regarding certain allegations of teacher licensure law violations,” which led to the $1.4 million fine.

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