On Friday morning in Memphis International Airport, a pilot ordered two Muslim clerics, traveling to a religious conference, off a plane, The Commercial Appeal reports. Both men had been screened by the Transportation Security Administration, and were cleared. They were also subject to additional security screening at the gate. They boarded the Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight and the plane left the gate, only to have the pilot turn around and expel the two men.
One of the men, Masudur Rahman, an adjunct instructor of Arabic at the University of Memphis, said they were told the pilot refused to accept them because some other passengers could be uncomfortable. As both men were clerics, they were dressed in the traditional garb, including skullcaps. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, called the incident a “Juan Williams thing,” in reference to the former NPR correspondent who said he was leery of flying with people in Muslim garb.
After Osama bin Laden's death, a closer eye has been placed on security, fearing retaliation from Al Qaeda and other extremist groups, as those groups have threatened. In Los Angeles, for example, massive security upgrades are planned for the rail lines, including a chemical-detection system and scores of new video surveillance cameras.