November 21st, 2007 03:23 EST
Federal judge's ruling calls U.S. Airways/MAC defense dubious
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) welcomed a ruling today by a federal judge in Minnesota that rejected almost all of the arguments made by U.S. Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission in the case of six imams, or Islamic religious leaders, removed from a flight last year in Minneapolis, then arrested and denied further service.
In her 41-page ruling and order, U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery said the question of whether airport officers had probable cause for the actions taken against the imams must be determined by the facts available at the time.
Montgomery termed "dubious" the often-repeated allegation that the imams were intent on interfering with the flight. According to the judge, the plaintiffs have a plausible claim that their constitutional rights were violated.
She said the facts "support the existence of an unconstitutional custom of arresting individuals without probable cause based on their race."
SEE: Judge Rejects Dismissal of Imams` Suit (Star Tribune)
SEE ALSO: Judge Rejects Defense Arguments to Dismiss Imams` Lawsuit (AP)
In a statement reacting to the judge`s ruling, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
We are pleased that despite the tremendous level of misinformation, unsubstantiated smears and Islamophobic rhetoric surrounding this case, an impartial examination of the facts lead the judge to rule in the imams` favor. At its core, this case has always been about the ability of all Americans to practice their faith without fear of intimidation or harassment. "
The attorney in the case, Omar Mohammedi, said: This preliminary victory shows that any American can have a day in court. The case is about civil rights violations and constitutional principles that we all cherish. Our judicial system has always been, and will remain, the hope for all minorities who seek to redress civil rights violations."
CAIR, America`s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org