Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fly Away

More than two years ago, the Flying Imams case was dismissed by the local monopoly newspaper as unworthy of further investigation. The story included elements of vital issues such as terrorism, religious intolerance, transportation security, witness intimidation, government entities getting sued for big bucks. And the essential facts of the case were still in dispute by the parties involved (the imams, the airlines, and the police/airports commission). Yet, in the considered editorial judgment of the Star Tribune, the story was a total snoozer. From the editor then running the show:

I don't think the paper dropped this story, but I do think it had run its course. I would like to have seen a story delving into who these folks were, a good suggestion, but I don't think it's timely at this point. I think this is one of those stories that runs for a couple of days, then subsides.

Shortly thereafter, the Star Tribune editorial page looked forward to finally getting to the bottom of this case. Not through their own reporting, mind you. No, they were happy to complacently outsource the reporting to another entity, the US District Court.

The lawsuit that six Muslim clerics filed against US Airways on Monday is likely to prove as divisive as the incident which prompted it -- welcomed by those who see the episode as a case of religious discrimination, derided by those who believe US Airways responded prudently to suspicious passenger behavior. But the trial could prove useful to the larger public if it finally clears up what actually happened at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Nov. 20 -- the facts are still much disputed -- and if the judge sets out some guidance on what's appropriate behavior when cultures clash.

As I said at the time:

Yes, thank goodness the court system will be there figure out this "divisive" situation for us. Lord knows we don't have any other institutions in town with the resources and expertise to investigate facts and report them.

This just in, bad news for the Star Tribune staff patiently waiting around for the past 30 months for the court to finally clear up what happened.

A settlement has been reached in the "Flying Imams" federal lawsuit that was filed by six Muslim men who claim they were falsely arrested on a US Airways jet in the Twin Cities three years ago because of their religious and ethnic backgrounds.

One of the imams, Marwan Sadeddin of Phoenix, told the Associated Press that the settlement does not include an apology but he considers it an acknowledgment that a mistake was made. He said he couldn't divulge the terms because both sides had agreed not to discuss them publicly.

I guess we'll never know the facts now. And that's the final straw! I'm cancelling my subscription to the US District Court.

As far as the Star Tribune goes, I guess you have to admire their efficiency. They agreed not to discuss the case publicly years before the plaintiffs and defendants did.

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