Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Praying Football While Muslim

The Associated Press, via the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported today on a strange incident which occurred on September 19. It seems Bush 41 went to see a Giants – New Orleans Saints game in New Jersey as part of a fund-raising event for those who suffered the brunt of Hurricane Katrina.

But Bush didn't go alone. As anyone with a scintilla of common sense knows, wherever Presidents, ex-Presidents, and their families congregate, so does the Secret Service and so does the FBI. What you want to do, should you find yourself in such a situation, is to get as far from the famous personage as possible. That way, you don’t make the protectors of the personages nervous, and they, likewise, leave you in peace. You’ll notice at such events that there are large areas of cleared space around whomever is deemed in need of guarding.

The other thing you avoid, besides the vicinity of said personage, is any behavior that might be deemed suspicious or questionable. Authorities are so paranoid these days you'd think bombs had been going off, or stadiums had been under attack. But paranoia or not, it is always best to err on the side of discretion and attempt to behave as normally as possible. Like, stay in your seat. Watch the game.

These rules were not so clear to the five Muslim men who showed up at the same football game as the former President. It’s terribly gauche for the FBI to take exception to five obviously Arab-appearing men gathered around an air duct, but that’s the FBI for you: not ethnically sensitive in large crowds.

The story is a bit muddled. See if you can figure it out:
     Five Muslim football fans were detained and questioned during a game at Giants Stadium because they were congregating near an air duct on a night former President Bush was in the stadium, the FBI said Wednesday.
Some of the Muslims said they did not know they were in a sensitive area, and they complained that they were subjected to racial profiling while they were praying, as their faith requires five times a day.
At a news conference Wednesday, Shaban [ one of the men] said he and four friends had just gotten to the Sept. 19 New York Giants-New Orleans Saints game when they left their seats to pray. Around halftime, 10 security officers and three state troopers approached the men and told them to come with them, Shaban said.
Here’s what seems strange, though it may be a muddled report rather than a sinister story: These men had just gotten to the game when they left their seats to pray? And then they happened to choose for the site of their prayer an air duct? But it wasn’t until half-time that the men were approached by the FBI…did they stick around the air duct during the whole first half?

When were they “approached” by the FBI? It doesn’t make sense to think that they were merely under surveillance while huddled around an air duct for an hour.

On the other hand, the way the FBI handled the situation when they did approach the men was outstanding. It was done Israeli-style:
     The men were questioned and then were not allowed to return to their seats, but were instead assigned to seats in another section, Shaban said. Three guards stood near them, and escorted them to their cars when they left the stadium.
Turns out they gathered to pray at the main air duct for the stadium. These guys don’t need a lawyer; they need an IQ test.

Meanwhile, the area around the air duct is no longer accessible. Good move, if somewhat slow, on the part of the stadium management.

By the way, how long do you think it will be before the ACLU notices the name of the Louisiana team and starts yammering for legal action to get the New Orleans Saints name changed? Perhaps to something less obviously Christian.

How about the New Orleans Victims?


Always On Watch said...

Praying at the main air duct? Come, now!

peggy said...

I am also not buying the " we didnt know we were in a sensitive area" bit. Come on. How oblivious to current realities can someone be? Why on earth, wouldnt they choose someplace more private or ask for a room in advance etc.

Whatsmore, why didnt they just pray before the game? It is a perfectly acceptable practice to pray a little before or after the usual time. Muslims are always making up missed prayers. A muslim family that I once knew would pray early if they knew they wouldn't be able to easily pray later on.

Whatever they were doing, it was not religiously neccessary to pray at the game. Of course, we are not going to hear that from the MSM who have already decided that these men were picked on for fulfilling their religious obligations.

Even if they were not aware of the air duct and intended no harm, I have the feeling that the act was a deliberate act of proselytization meant to attract attention and/or admiration for their devotion and to invite questions about islam. Muslims are constantly encouraged to attract such attention by praying in public or adopting religious garb for that very stated reason.

But I am reminded of what Jesus said about praying in public like the hypocrites looking for credit and admiration do. I let that speak for what I think of this practice.

BTW, one of the men quoted in the story said of himself that he was as American as apple pie. Sounds like a new tactic to me. I can just hear the imams suggesting it to flocks. But it seems to me as if he/they completely misunderstand the meaning of the phrase if they think a beard-wearing muslim guy taking a break from a football game is the very definition of American. No red-blooded American football fan that I know would want to miss a single play unless they had to go and even then would try to hold out as long as they could. Football is that kind of game, ya know. American as apple pie leaves out the full phrase as well. Isnt it "as American as hot dogs and apple pie?" Hmmmm? The phrase is all about what America was once thought to be and to a great extent was. It really has no application to new definitions. Devout muslims do not qualify. My advice is to find another more suitable expression to co-opt for your purposes guys.

peggy said...


This may be giving them too much credit, but maybe they were hoping for something to happen so they could paint themselves to be the victims of pernicious discrimination?

Maybe a ploy to wrest a prayer room from the Giants org?

Thomas von der Trave said...

How about we change the name of the team to the New Orleans Shuhadaa (Martyrs)?

It would not only be more sensitive to our brethren in the Religion of Peace and Love, but also commemorate all the people of color who died when Bush blew up the levies.