Moderate Muslim leader says he'll defend passengers sued by flying imams

I hate when the left-coast night owls beat me to stories. Especially stories as sweet as this.

See-Dub’s right, though. The operative word here is “awesome.” Awesome enough for the red font, in fact.

Lawyers and a Muslim group say they will defend at no cost airline passengers caught up in a lawsuit between a group of imams and U.S. Airways if the passengers are named as “John Does” and sued for reporting suspicious behavior that got the Muslim clerics booted from a November flight…

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix-area physician and director of American Islamic Forum for Democracy — a group founded in 2003 to promote moderate Muslim ideas through its Web site ( — told The Washington Times his group will raise money for legal fees for passengers if they are sued by the imams…

Gerry Nolting, whose Minnesota law firm Faegre & Benson LLP is offering to represent passengers for free, says the judicial system is being “used for intimidation purposes” and that it is “just flat wrong and needs to be strongly, strongly discouraged.”

“As a matter of public policy, the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] presently tells traveling passengers to report suspicious behavior as part of its homeland security program,” Mr. Nolting said. “This has nothing to do with race or ethnicity, but trying to intimidate and discourage reporting of suspicious behavior and [also discourage] the promotion of safe travel.”

FYI, Faegre & Benson is no boutique midwestern law firm. It’s one of the most prestigious in the country. And according to WashTimes, they’re not the only lawyers who have come forward and offered to work on this pro bono.

Here’s Zuhdi Jasser on Fox yesterday with Neil Cavuto.

You may remember him for his defense of “24” in NRO in January. Not only is he a patriot (and a CAIR critic of longstanding), he’s taking a very shrewd position here. The people who stand to suffer the most from this suit are Muslims, a point I’ve made repeatedly and which Jasser understands perfectly well as evidenced not only by the clip but by the press release his group issued yesterday. Quote:

While the six imams’ handlers, CAIR, and their lawyers may have some kind of obscure basis for their lawsuit, it is our belief that the fallout and publicity from such litigation is wrong for American Muslims, wrong for American security, and wrong for American freedoms. The greatest guarantor of our rights as American Muslims is the tenor of our relationship with the greater majority of American society. This type of litigiousness is divisive and achieves nothing but resentment and actually causes far more harm than good to the overall image of the Muslim community in the eyes of non-Muslim America.

Doesn’t CAIR see that? Sure — that’s the point of the suit. The more alienated Muslims are, the more receptive they’ll be to CAIR’s grievance theater.

Here’s the donation page for Jasser’s group in case you’d like to encourage his work. And here’s Mark Steyn on H&C last night discussing Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak’s decision to address CAIR at a banquet next month. I wonder where Jasser comes down on that.