Ignoring the "Imams on a Plane" Lawsuit

The Times relies on an AP squib for its coverage of a lawsuit by six imams against airline customers who reported the imams' suspicious behavior before a flight. Meanwhile, the New York Sun makes it a lead story.

So far the Times has apparently yet to do any original reporting on the lawsuit filed by six imams against US Airways and some passengers who reported suspicious behavior bythe imams before a flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix last year. The imams weretaken off the plane in Minneapolis for behavior that included loud chanting, cursing the United States, and praising Saddam Hussein. Yet even passage by the House of a bill to protect passengers who report suspicious behavior on airlines apparently didn't interest the newspaper.

The Times' Muslims-in-America beat reporter Neil MacFarquhar (whose reporting is reliably pro-Muslim) has filed nothing besides a single, amazingly slanted and misleading summary of the case on December 7, 2006, in the context of a review of a Muslim-based sit-com airing in...Canada.

So far the Times has left all the lifting to an Associated Press squib, "Muslims Clerics Sue Airline and Passengers."

The AP reported: "Six Muslim men removed from a plane last fall after being accused of suspicious behavior are suing the airline - and the passengers who complained, a move that some fear could discourage others from speaking up if they see something unusual.

"The civil rights lawsuit, filed this month, has so alarmed some lawyers that they are offering to defend the passengers without charge. They say it is vital that the public be able to report suspicious behavior without fear of being taken to court.

"The six Muslim men, all imams, were taken off a Phoenix-bound US Airways flight on Nov. 20 while returning home from a conference of Islamic clerics in Minneapolis.

"Other passengers had gotten nervous when the men were seen praying and chanting in Arabic. Some passengers also said that the men spoke of Saddam Hussein and cursed the United States, and that they requested seat belt extenders and stowed them under their seats.

"Omar Mohammedi, a New York lawyer for the imams, said the intent was not to go after passengers who raise valid concerns, but that passengers might have acted out of prejudice. He denied that the imams were talking about Mr. Hussein, and said that their seats were assigned and that they needed extenders because their belts did not fit."

That's apparently it for the Times. By contrast, the town's other broadsheet, the New York Sun, has taken the story seriously, finding a local angle and making it the http://www.nysun.com/article/51675 " target="_self">lead http://www.nysun.com/article/51675 ">story in Tuesday's edition under the headline "Suit Could Stifle Terror Fight."