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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:17 AM
Original message
Iraqi Peace Activist Forced to Change T-Shirt Bearing Arabic Script at JFK
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/08/21/134...

On a trip back from the Middle East, Iraqi blogger and activist Raed Jarrar was not allowed to board a flight at JFK airport because he was wearing a T-Shirt that said "We will not be silent" in English and Arabic. Representatives of Jet Blue Airways forced him to change his T-Shirt saying wearing it was like "going to a bank with a T-Shirt reading 'I am a robber.'" In Iraq at least 20 people were killed and more than 300 injured on Sunday in attacks on Shiite pilgrims gathering for a mass religious festival in Baghdad.

The shootings occurred despite heavy security measures imposed by US and Iraqi forces that included a weekend driving ban in the capital. About 1,000 people were killed during the Shiite holiday last year when rumors of a suicide bomber triggered a stampede.

The killings on Sunday highlighted tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims that is claiming about 100 lives a day in Iraq and stoking fears that the country is moving towards a full-blown civil war. In July alone, the Baghdad morgue reported more than eighteen hundred violent deaths.

In a sign of how routine the killings have become, the US military reported "relatively little violence" following Sunday's attacks.

Earlier this month, a delegation of peace activists from the United States met with Iraqi parliament members in Amman Jordan to discuss issues concerning Iraq's reconciliation plan as well as the withdrawal of US troops. The delegation met with representatives of the largest Shia and Sunni groups as well as with religious leaders and human rights organizations.

We speak with Raed Jarrar, the Iraq Project Director for Global Exchange about his trip to the Middle East. But first he talks about how he was barred from boarding a flight at JFK airport because he was wearing a T-Shirt bearing Arabic script.

* Raed Jarrar, Iraq Project Director for Global Exchange. He is an Iraqi blogger and architect. His runs a popular blog called "Raed in the Middle."

RUSH TRANSCRIPT

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AMY GOODMAN: Raed Jarrar joins us in a studio in San Francisco, the Iraq Project Director for Global Exchange. He is an Iraqi blogger and architect, who runs a popular blog called "Raed in the Middle." Before we talk about the latest in Iraq, Raed, I wanted to ask you about -- well, starting at the end, your trip home, how you made it back to the United States.

RAED JARRAR: I made it back to the United States in a very easy way. In fact, the incident that happened in JFK was not related to my trip, because I went back to D.C. I spent a day in D.C. Then I took the bus to New York. I spent a couple of days in New York. There was an event there. Then I was supposed to take my airplane, my Jet Blue airplane from JFK to Oakland in California last Saturday. So I went to the airport in the morning, and I was prevented to go to my airplane by four officers, because I was wearing this t-shirt that says We will not be silent in both Arabic and English. And I was told by one of the officials that wearing a t-shirt with Arabic script in an airport now is like going to a bank with a t-shirt that reads, I am a robber.

AMY GOODMAN: That's what the security said to you?

RAED JARRAR: Yeah. I was questioned by four officials from -- I think some of them were from Jet Blue and others were maybe policemen or FBI. I have no idea. I took their names and badge numbers, and I filed a complaint through ACLU against them, because I asked them very directly to let me go to the airplane, because it's my constitutional right as a U.S. taxpayer and resident to wear a t-shirt with Arabic script. And they prevented to let me exercise this right, and they made me cover the script with another t-shirt.

AMY GOODMAN: So they said you could not fly if you wore your t-shirt that said, We will not be silent?

RAED JARRAR: Yes. They said that very clearly.

AMY GOODMAN: I was just looking at another piece in the Daily Mail of Britain, which says, British holidaymakers staged an unprecedented mutiny -- refusing to allow their flight to take off until two men they feared were terrorists were forcibly removed. The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic. Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus <> minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for in the departure lounge refused to board it .

RAED JARRAR: And, Amy, there was a similar story from San Francisco last week, with a Canadian doctor called Ahmed Farooq, who was prevented to complete his airplane, because he was praying in his seat. So, I think, you know, these incidents are increasing, because of the latest alleged terror attack.

AMY GOODMAN: Also in this article it talks about others, as you were just talking about. Websites used by pilots and cabin crew were <> reporting further incidents. In one, two British women with young children on another flight from Spain complained about flying with a bearded Muslim even though he had been security-checked twice before boarding. Raed Jarrar, let's talk about the larger context right now of the Middle East and whats happening. Can you talk about your trip, why you went on this CODEPINK-sponsored trip to Amman, what you learned there? And then we'll talk about the latest in Iraq.

RAED JARRAR: The trip was an answer for what Mr. al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, have done when he came to the U.S. Global Exchange and CODEPINK and other organizations, United for Peace and Justice, we tried to contact Mr. al-Maliki before he came to the U.S. during his last visit and requested a meeting with him. We asked him to meet with representatives of the antiwar movement and to speak with them about, you know, some proposals or ways of supporting the Iraq reconciliation plan, and, you know, what can be done from the U.S. side to finish the occupation of Iraq. Unfortunately, Mr. al-Maliki prefers to just go have some meetings with the U.S. Bush administrations officials and maybe he met the troops and thanked them for, quote/unquote, "liberating Iraq," and he denied -- he refused to meet with the representatives of the peace movement.

That's why we put together a meeting with Iraqi representatives from the Iraqi parliament to discuss with them alternative solutions for the current occupation in Iraq. So we put together three major meetings with representatives from the biggest Sunni coalition in the parliament, the biggest Shia coalition in the parliament, and the biggest working secular and liberal group in the Iraqi parliament, because we wanted to find other channels in dealing with the Iraqi government, other than al-Maliki and the few people around him, who are repeating the same Bush administrations lies and excuses for keeping the troops there.

So our meetings were very fruitful, in fact, especially the one with the mainstream Sunni and Shia parties, because we got this strong united message from Iraqi Sunnis and Shia demanding a timetable for pulling out the U.S. troops. And they were very clear about demanding to take their country back. They said, We want our country back. We want the U.S. troops to put a timetable for withdrawing the troops, because our country is deteriorating. The situation is getting worse, and the U.S. has proven that they cannot control Iraq. So we want our country back. And we want the U.S. to leave. And this contradicts completely with al-Malikis shameful position, when he came to the U.S., you know, and gave the exact different or opposite image.

So I think the visit was important for us as representatives of the peace movement, to deliver this important message, even from the Iraqi government, that many people are still calling it a puppet government in the U.S. When you come to the Iraqi parliament, there is a vast majority of parliamentarians who are requesting an end of this war and dealing with its consequences by either compensating Iraqis or fixing the destruction that happened because of the illegal war.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Raed Jarrar, the Iraqi Project Director for Global Exchange, runs the popular blog, "Raed in the Middle." We'll be back with him to talk about some newspaper reports of private meetings President Bush has been having, discussions of whether democracy should be supported in Iraq and also questioning why the Iraqi people aren't expressing more gratitude. We'll also play a clip of John McCain calling for more troops in Iraq and get Raed Jarrar's reaction. Stay us with.
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Ravenseye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:23 AM
Response to Original message
1. Color me unsurprised
I get the second degree or more just from my name and looks. If I wore a shirt with arabic script on it, or prayed on a plane...Hell I'd consider it asking to be taken off the flight.

It doesn't make it right, i'm just saying...If you're Arab, Look Arab, Could be Arab, etc, and don't know that doing something like that would cause problems you're either lying or stupid. The only reason would be to provoke this type of incident.
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MyNameGoesHere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:36 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Well there is your
America for ya. I'm just saying ya know. I guess sking whiteing agents are going to be on the rise. Cause in this america we all should look and act white yes?
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Ravenseye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:16 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. No
Just saying that I know that when I go to the airport I"m going to get extra security attention so I try not to raise their hackles too mcuh.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:45 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Perhaps he just figured it was his right.
> If you're Arab, Look Arab, Could be Arab, etc, and don't know
> that doing something like that would cause problems you're either
> lying or stupid. The only reason would be to provoke this type
> of incident.

Perhaps he just figured it was his right under the United
States Constitution (still technically in effect from what
I hear) to wear a simple, non-inflamatory statement on his
tee-shirt, even if it was written in a script that lots of
'Murcans:

o Don't understand, and

o Are deathly afraid of.

Documenting this thoroughly and calling the ACLU ex-post-
facto was the right course of action.

If more people were willing to do this, the bullshit
would stop.

Tesha
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Ravenseye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. if he did it because he figured 'it was his right'
Then he was doing it to provke this type of incident.

My cousin just flew back from the UK and EU a week ago and spent 2 hours talking to FBI agents in a back room because he travels alot and is Arab. If you're arab you KNOW what will happen when you do something like this. Whether it's wearing arabic script on your shirt, or praying at the terminal on your prayer mat. If you're arab you KNOW what will happen. From experience. If you travel.

I'm not saying he shouldn't wear it, and I'm not saying he shouldn't pursue legal action. I fully support him doing that...I'm just saying there is no way this guy was surprised by this happening and maybe even planned on it.
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Tesha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:11 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Maybe more people should be provoking just this sort of incident?
Or throwing some tea in a hardbor somewhere?

Or storming a bastille?

Mayeb the time for merely sitting around computer
chatrooms and moaning is now over?

Tesha
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Ravenseye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:33 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Sure
I have no problem with that, though if I'm flying cross country with my family in the meantime, you'll pardon me if I don't try and provoke anyone. ;)
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me b zola Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:44 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Hmmm. How's this
T-shirts that say, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me" (from a Catholic hymn), or "Peace on earth, goodwill to mankind" written in Arabic script. Imagine how stupid security people would feel if they discriminated against someone for wearing this shirt when they found out what it says.

On the down side, conservative rethugs have thrown Jesus in the gutter and are not likely to remember his teachings and will take this message as a threat. :freak:
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:02 PM
Response to Reply #6
16. My reading of the interview
It's not clear why Mr. Jarrar was wearing this shirt, but I don't see any indication that he was doing it to be provocative. It's entirely possible he didn't think anything about it, you know, all that "land of the free and home of the brave" propaganda the Bush administration is constantly trying to catapult over in Iraq.

I know that for me, if I showed up in something "objectionable" without thinking about it, or without even the idea that what I was doing or wearing was "objectionable," I'd probably bow my neck and insist on my constitutional rights, too.

And I would be surprised if the content of a t-shirt caused four gun-toting federal agents to wet their pants.
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magellan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:23 PM
Response to Original message
4. What BS!!
My heart aches to hear this kind of thing. Who the hell are these pathetic cowards who're letting the terrorists (including those in the WH) win by succombing to fear and unjust discrimination?

A t-shirt, for god's sake. Prayer. Bearded men. But not a whimper about all the luggage that ISN'T BEING CHECKED before it's put in the cargo hold of each and every flight.

If the world's going to end I wish it'd hurry up, because I really don't want to be around to see what vicious, ignorant things we're going to do to each other next.
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agentkgb Donating Member (37 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
7. Mall T-Shirt
I heard a few years ago that a guy in a city in NY bought a t-shirt in a mall, put it on, and then was stopped by security officials and told to take it off. It said "Peace" or something similar, all in English, nothing weird about it, and he bought it in the mall itself. I think this was in Albany, NY right after the Iraq War started but I'm not sure.
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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #7
17. "sorry, we don't serve Amish in our stores"
That man had custom ordered that shirt, from what I recall. The staff told him to take the shirt off or leave.
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rman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:59 PM
Response to Original message
11. That'll teach them terrorists
Makes me feel so secure... protected by the almighty W.
What more can one wish for in these dire times?

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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:11 PM
Response to Original message
12. The airlines should put a stop to this.
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 03:12 PM by IMModerate
If someone has been cleared for travel, I don't care if he's got a hookah, and a magic carpet, he should fly. If the other passengers don't like it, they can forfeit their tickets. Fuck 'em. That'll stop this shit, quick.

--IMM
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:48 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. I agree; why is wardrobe even an issue? nt
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:56 PM
Response to Original message
14. What if the arabic script read "God Bless America"?
Would he still be expelled from the plane?

Or is it the message about not being quiet, about voicing your opinion? I thought "not being quiet" was the hallmark of being in a healthy democracy.

Which was more offensive to these goons?
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thefuzz811 Donating Member (50 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:59 PM
Response to Original message
15. This is discrimination.
If you don't fit in the nice clean box, that they erected, they throw you out or demand that you conform. They are blatantly breaking his constitutional right to free speech.
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bulletsandspikes Donating Member (33 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:39 PM
Response to Original message
18. I had something like this happen to me.
I was wearing a band shirt and it had a picture of bush with a halo. Behind that were two crossed m-16s. Undeneath that it said "Control through fear". I was leaving texas and as I walked through the metal detector the person looked at me, looked at my shirt, and then back at me. he said, "That's close", to which I responded "Ok". I took my stuff, walked away, and boarded the plane.
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newyawker99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 05:21 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Hi bulletsandspikes!!
Welcome to DU!! :toast:
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bulletsandspikes Donating Member (33 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:24 PM
Response to Reply #19
23. Thanks.
I've lurked for long enough.
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populistdriven Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:54 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. nice shirt! and welcome to DU!
:headbang:
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:04 PM
Response to Original message
21. I have a shirt with my university in script. Does that make me a terraist
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 09:05 PM by lonestarnot
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bulletsandspikes Donating Member (33 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:23 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Does it have a flag on it?
If not the answer is yes. :sarcasm:
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