Does Muslim garb make you nervous, like Juan Williams, ex-NPR newsman? Perhaps our experience last spring is worth the telling.
Returning from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, we had already passed through not only security but Customs and Immigration before boarding our plane. After the inevitable departure delays, it was a short and uneventful flight to Fort Lauderdale (just the way I like ’em.)
Having landed safely (praise be – to the pilot and/or your deity of choice,) passengers began the mad flurry of reclaiming overstuffed carry-ons from overhead bins, preparatory to clogging the aisle until the doors actually opened.
Announcement: “Will everyone please return to your seat. Now.” Flurry, flurry. “We apologize for the delay, but we need everyone to return to their seats.” Accomplished.
“Will (passenger name) please identify himself to a cabin attendant.” No response. Request repeated and ignored.
“Will anyone who knows (passenger name) identify themselves?” Silence through the second asking.
Next, an officer in a standard police uniform (minus sidearm, with taser holster) moved down the aisle, stopping two rows ahead of us on the other side. That row contained a young man wearing a sikh-style turban and tunic sitting on the aisle, and two unremarkable typical tourist types. Consulting what I assume was a photo, the officer pointed at the passenger in the center seat, saying, “Please come with me, sir.” Which he did, quietly and unremarkably. I’ll never know what he was wanted for, but his removal allowed the rest of us, including our turbanned fellow traveler to disembark in peace.
When the cop stopped at that row, did we jump to conclusions? I’m afraid so. Were we wrong? Yes. Think about it. Someone willing to brave the TSA to follow his religion’s dictates on garb strikes me as possibly truly religious. Your average evildoer packs his plastique into Nikes under blue jeans.
So wear slip-on shoes, keep your seatbelt fastened, and have a nice flight.