An Orthodox Jewish man was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight in Montreal last week for praying, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation reported on Wednesday. The man was a passenger on a Sept. 1 flight from Montreal to New York City when the incident occurred. The airplane was heading towards the runway at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport when eyewitnesses said the Orthodox man began to pray. "He was clearly a Hasidic Jew," said Yves Faguy, a passenger seated nearby. "He had some sort of cover over his head. He was reading from a book. He wasn't exactly praying out loud but he was lurching back and forth," Faguy told the CBC. The action didn't seem to bother anyone, Faguy said, but a flight attendant approached the man and told him his praying was making other passengers nervous.I'll tell you what was making some of the other passengers nervous, and it wasn't the Orthodox man praying. Certain governments, formerly known as democracies, have been so successful at creating an environment of terro-noia that what would otherwise be ignored is now grounds for suspicion. Beware the "other" - the person who looks and acts different is a threat! Welcome to the Deep South, circa 1950s and 60s (and Toronto-the-not-so-good, circa the same time) courtesy of leaders who - not coincidently - were socialized precisely then.
Update (6 Sep 2006): An anonymous commenter brings to my attention that a similar incident involving a Muslim doctor from Winnipeg occurred on a United Airlines flight last week (United is a Star Alliance partner of Air Canada). The shameful official statement from the airline completely misunderstands the issues and the stakes involved:
Brandon Borrman of United Airlines told the Winnipeg Free Press this week that the airline is obliged to take any allegations threatening passenger safety seriously, particularly in the wake of last week's arrests in the alleged bomb plot on flights from Britain to the U.S. "Whenever these types of claims are made we have a duty to investigate," Borrman said. "Our flight crews are trained to make safety the No. 1 priority."It's their obligation to investigate praying?! It's unthinking, knee-jerk reactions like these that make all of us considerably less safe! I've got news for the "trained" flight crews: Real terrorists don't overtly pray on board flights before perpetrating dastardly deeds!
[Technorati tags: air canada | orthodox | jew | pray | shame]