25 former Hertz drivers in Seattle sue, saying they were targeted as Somali Muslims

SEATTLE — Twenty-five former Hertz drivers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have filed a lawsuit claiming they were fired based on their race, religion and nationality.

The former employees are Muslims who were born in Somalia.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court claims Hertz Corp. terminated them after they refused to clock out for prayers. The lawsuit claims they had not been required to clock out previously and the rules were changed to target Somali Muslims.

Hertz officials could not be reached for comment after business hours. But a spokesman said previously that other drivers who were suspended in September returned to their jobs after agreeing to clock out.
The workers who are suing want to be reinstated with back pay, plus reimbursement of lost benefits and attorneys’ fees.

Muslims fired in Seattle over prayer breaks could return-Hertz

SEATTLE, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The Hertz car rental company said on Friday that 26 Muslim drivers at Seattle’s airport sent termination letters in a dispute over prayer breaks could still return to work if they signed an agreement over break rules by the end of the day.

A group of 34 workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were suspended three weeks ago for failing to clock in and out for the breaks, a move their union called religious discrimination.

Hertz Suspends 34 Muslim Drivers In Prayer Dispute

SEATTLE (AP) — Thirty-four Muslim drivers for auto rental company Hertz claimed they were suspended for praying during work hours, but the company contended they were reprimanded for abusing break times. Backed by their union, the drivers protested Wednesday outside the Hertz counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where they are based.

“This is an outrageous assault on the rights of these workers and appears to be discriminatory based on their religious beliefs,” Tracey A. Thompson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117, said in a statement. Observant Muslims pray five times a day.

Hertz said the workers suspended last week were violating provisions of a collective bargaining agreement and a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached two years ago. “The breaks were getting extended way beyond prayer time,” said Rich Broome, a spokesman for Hertz Global Holdings Inc. “It’s important to understand that several Muslim employees who are complying were not suspended. It’s not about prayer, it’s not about religion; it’s about reasonable requirements.”

Final suspect, imam from Trinidad, convicted in plot to blow up fuel tanks at NY’s JFK airport

NEW YORK — A 65-year-old imam from Trinidad was convicted Thursday by a federal jury of participating in a failed plot to blow up jet fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a scheme that authorities said was meant to outdo the Sept. 11 attacks and avenge perceived U.S. oppression of Muslims around the world.

Kareem Ibrahim was convicted of five conspiracy counts after jury deliberations that spanned two days. The mastermind of the operation, Russell Defreitas, a former cargo handler, and co-conspirator Abdul Kadir, an engineer and former member of Guyana’s parliament, are serving life in prison after their convictions on conspiracy charges.

A fourth man, Abdel Nur, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years.

Two Muslim religious leaders say they were asked to leave Delta flight in Memphis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two Muslim religious leaders say they were asked to leave a commercial airliner after being cleared by security agents and boarded the plane for an 8:40 a.m. flight on Friday in Memphis. They were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard.

Masudur Rahman, who is also an adjunct instructor of Arabic at the University of Memphis, said by phone from the terminal at Memphis International Airport that he and another imam had already been allowed to board their Delta Connection flight to Charlotte, N.C., before they were asked to get off the plane.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jon Allen in Atlanta confirmed the incident and said it was not initiated by that agency.

Both passengers are Memphis-area residents. Rahman said he was dressed in traditional Indian clothing and his traveling companion was dressed in Arab garb, including traditional headgear.

Ibrahim Hooper, of the American-Islamic organization, said the group will follow up with the airline and with the TSA to help ensure such incidents do not continue to occur.

Hooper said airline officials at Memphis tried to resolve the situation, but the pilot refused.

Supreme Court considers former attorney general Ashcroft’s liability in lawsuit

On Wednesday the Supreme Court justices considered whether former attorney general John D. Ashcroft could be held personally liable for the detention of an American Muslim.

Abdullah al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in 2003 and held as a material witness. But Kidd contends that he was not detained because he had information about terrorism. Instead, he says, he was detained as part of a plan approved by Ashcroft to sweep up Muslim men the government suspected but could not prove had ties to terrorism.

Ashcroft, President George W. Bush’s attorney general from 2001 to 2005, claims legal immunity from the lawsuit, and the Obama administration is defending him.

Kidd is a onetime University of Idaho football star, born Lavoni T. Kidd. He converted to Islam in college. He was arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003 as he was boarding a plane for Saudi Arabia, where he planned to study.

Kidd maintains that in his more than two weeks of detention, he was strip-searched, shackled, interrogated without an attorney present and treated as a terrorist.

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Ashcroft Can be Sued by Detained Citizen

The Supreme Court will again examine the government’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, agreeing Monday to consider whether former attorney general John D. Ashcroft can be sued by a U.S. citizen who claims he was detained and treated as a terrorist.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said that Ashcroft did not have immunity for the actions al-Kidd challenges and that the case should go forward to see whether al-Kidd can prove his case.

The court will review a ruling that said that Abdullah al-Kidd can press forward with his suit against Ashcroft. Al-Kidd, a one-time University of Idaho football star who converted to Islam, was arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003 as he was boarding a plane for Saudi Arabia, where he planned to study.

In 2009, the justices narrowly ruled for the former attorney general in a similar case. They dismissed allegations from a Pakistani man legally living in the United States that Ashcroft should be held responsible for his detainment after the terrorism attacks, when he says he was beaten and held in solitary confinement for five months without being charged.

Muslim Leaders Unite Behind Center

Leaders of local and national groups gathered at the site of the planned center, two blocks from ground zero, and declared not only that the planners had a constitutional right to build it, but also that they would help the project move forward in the face of heated opposition. They insisted that, as a matter of principle, the center should not budge from its planned site.

The Muslim leaders called on elected officials “to join their colleagues in denouncing and rejecting inflammatory rhetoric that endangers the lives of Muslim Americans.”

The proposed Islamic community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan got its strongest vote of confidence yet from major Muslim leaders on Monday, after months of behind-the-scenes grumbling that they were not properly consulted on the project, and a day’s worth of intense and painful conversations at a hotel near Kennedy International Airport.

Hijab invites suspicion for woman at Canadian airport, CAIR reports new potential issues to Obama

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote President Obama a letter stating that Muslim women in hijabs may be targeted at airports.

A Muslim woman at Canada’s Halifax Stanfield International Airport was detained for four hours and interrogated harshly. She was boarding a plane to the US to see her husband in Ohio and was denied entry.

In the letter, CAIR President Nihad Awad told Obama he supports efforts to improve security, but pointed out that safety was not improved through profiling tactics.

Canadian Muslim woman refused entry into the US, claims discrimination

A Muslim woman alleges she was mistreated by border officials at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport after she was denied entry to the United States. Ayat Manna, who lives in Halifax, said she had a one-way ticket leaving Monday for Cleveland, where she was planning to spend several months to visit her husband.

The 25-year-old was held for questioning – something she said made her believe she was targeted because she was wearing a head scarf and is a Muslim woman. Border officials questioned her for more than four hours about why she was visiting the United States.

She said she was told to go home and escorted from the building by the RCMP. “I felt like I was a terrorist. Everybody was staring at me and it was the most embarrassing moment of my life.” A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency denied many of her claims of poor treatment.