Rights commission warns against Islamophobia

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) issued a fresh warning about Islamophobic hysteria today after two men “of Middle-Eastern appearance” were forced off a British-bound flight.

Fearful passengers on board flight ZB 613 from Malaga to Manchester demanded that staff remove them from the plane early on Wednesday. The pair were said to be guilty of “suspicious behaviour” – which amounted to being overheard speaking Arabic, wearing leather jackets on a hot day and checking their watches. Six other passengers refused to board the plane and others flounced off when they heard about it.

The two men were eventually kicked off the flight and questioned by police, before being released without charge.

IHRC chairman Massoud Shadjareh said that the incident was “exactly the type of thing we’ve been so concerned about.” He said:

“There is ever-increasing Islamophobia being implemented in the war on terror. It is counterproductive, not just because it’s going to alienate people who are perceived to be Muslim, but also because terrorists have shown that they will make themselves look completely different to how people perceive them to look. By profiling people on the basis of ethnicity or religion we are actually endangering our lives.”

A spokesman for Monarch Airlines said: “There were two passengers on the flight who came to the attention of the other people because they were apparently acting suspiciously.”

Morning Star, 21 August 2006