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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

ACLU Files Lawsuit Defending Raed Jarrar: He Will NOT Be Silent!

On August 12, 2006, Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi born journalist and anti-war activist living in the United States with his American wife, was kept from boarding a plane at JFK for ONE reason: he was wearing a t-shirt which read in English "We will not be silent" with the same quote above it written in Arabic. He was approached by a Jet Blue employee and a TSA official and told he could not board the plane wearing the t-shirt. During the resulting discussion, another Jet Blue employee offered to buy Raed another t-shirt to place over the one he was wearing. Afraid of missing his plane, Raed agreed to this and was then seated at the BACK of the plane, with his prior boarding pass ripped up.

Can someone explain to me how IF Raed was ANY kind of a "threat", how covering his t-shirt with Arabic writing on it made him "safe to fly"?

Last week, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on Raed's behalf.

Raed is NOT the first, nor will he be the last to encounter such an incident of "flying while Arab"
What many people tend to not realize is that this has been going on for MANY years, long before 911 when it became more "acceptable" by the public to single out Middle Eastern passengers.

In 1988, when my Arab American ten year old daughter returned home through LAX from a vacation to visit her father's family in Spain, she was taken aside in customs and singled out for inspection. She was traveling as an unaccompanied minor at the time and was led up to customs by a stewardess. Why was she taken aside and her luggage thoroughly searched? Because she had purchased some gifts of pottery for me which her grandmother (Saudi) had carefully packed in a box which had Arabic writing on it. Not only was the box sent through the x-ray screening prior to inspecting it, but her ENTIRE luggage was gone through with a fine-tooth comb. By the time she came out, LONG after all the other passengers on that flight, she was in tears. The stewardess apologized to both my daughter and myself but said this was not unusual, that we should avoid such things in the future. It was my daughter's first trip abroad alone.

Since then, she has learned the "rules of flying while Arab/Muslim". What would YOU think if your daughter told you that she shouldn't smile at people too much on a plane because it might bring attention to her? What would YOU think if your daughter told you she is MORE than reluctant to say her father is from a certain country, ANY country, because that would bring automatic suspicion to her? What would YOU think, if every time you went to pick up your child at the airport, you EXPECTED her to be one of the last ones out of customs SIMPLY BECAUSE OF HER HERITAGE? (because it happens OFTEN). Think hard folks, this is YOUR child I'm talking about.

YOUTUBE: From Raed Jarrar is an Iraqi-born architect and human rights activist who was barred from boarding a JetBlue flight at John F. Kennedy Airport for wearing a t-shirt that read "We Will Not Be Silent" in English and Arabic. On August 9, 2007, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against JetBlue and a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official charging that they illegally discriminated against Raed based solely on the message on his t-shirt and his ethnicity. Learn more about Raed's case, free speech and racial profiling at

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