The Unfriendly Skies: JetBlue/TSA Officials Pay $240,000 for Grounding Arabic T-Shirt

When it rains, it pours… stories about discrimination at the airport. As AirTran Airways scrambled to make good after excluding a Muslim family from one of their flights last week, a discrimination case from 2006 was settled when two Transportation Security Authority officials and JetBlue Airways paid Raed Jarrar $240,000 to settle charges that they illegally discriminated against the U.S. resident based on his ethnicity and the Arabic writing on his T-shirt.

On August 12, 2006, Jarrar was at New York's JFK Airport waiting to board a flight from New York to his home in Oakland, California. He was wearing a T-shirt that read "We Will Not Be Silent" in English and Arabic. While waiting in the gate area, Jarrar was approached by two TSA officials. One of them told Jarrar that he needed to remove his shirt because other passengers were not comfortable with the Arabic script. One of the officials told Jarrar that wearing a shirt with Arabic writing on it to an airport was like "wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, 'I am a robber.'"

Jarrar tried to assert his First Amendment right to wear the shirt, but TSA and JetBlue officials surrounded him and made it clear that he would not be allowed to board the plane unless he covered it up. Terrified of what they would do to him, Jarrar reluctantly covered up his shirt with a new T-shirt purchased for him by JetBlue.

But the story doesn't end there — even after Jarrar covered his shirt, he was not allowed to board until JetBlue changed his seat and made him ride in the back of the plane.

The outcome of this case should send a clear message to all TSA officials and airlines that what happened to Jarrar was not okay. Perhaps the $240,000 settlement, which was paid out on Friday, January 2, can serve as a symbol of what the new year could bring — an end to racial profiling and speech discrimination, just maybe?

A video of Jarrar talking about the case is here.

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Average Joe

And maybe if Aden Fine had his way, we will also have another 9-11. The statement, "We will not be silent", could be interpreted by a reasonable person as a threat in the context of an airport. The ACLU is absolutely ruining this country. And by the way, Aden Fine is a raging faggot child-molester.

pauli depeniz

Profiling is a very valuable law enforcement tool and you liberal jerks at the aclu are hurting America.

sparta16

What about the rights of the other individuals on that plane to feel safe and secure. I don't want to sit on an airplane, next to a person of arab heritage wearing a shirt that says "we will not be silent".
So you folks believe his right to wear a t-shirt is more important than the rights of the other 100 or so people who are also paying to ride on this plane?
You people are lunatics, he is a lunatic for wearing the shirt, and the judge is a lunatic for giving him money because he got his feelings hurt.

dan

the aclu should be put on the terrorist list.

True American

Nice great job ALCU for getting someone $240,000 dollars for something that SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED. You people are idiots and so are your supporters. He should have been forced to remove his shirt and I feel possibly held until further investigation. You people are weaking America period. And just so you know, your bullcrap about Bush needs to stop he didnt do anything that wasnt voted on and you supported Obama Bin Ladin when he has ties to terrorist and is a racist. I dont see you fighting for rights and stating that Obama wasnt even born here and had no right to run for office. Congrats you just helped ruin the presidency and made a regime. You just promoted what you supposedly fight against. You people are cowards, bigots and sorry excuses for human beings. I wonder will you fight for our right to bear arms when your racist, terrorist regime leader Obama Bin Ladin starts trying to take our guns, No I bet you wont lift a finger. AS long as you exist the terrorist and the racist get stronger morons.

bddfc1981

Its time to start hanging terrorists and these ACLU lawyers. The ACLU is so blantantly anti-American that it is no suprise that they stand up for Muslim terrorists. The ACLU is a treasonous group and must be treated like one. Any American lawyer that would sink to the depths of standing up for child molesters and terrorists must be stopped at all costs!

Paul

This is a truly despicable award. YOU ARE RUINING AMERICA!! Why are you not defending my civil liberties!! As a result of the terrorists and their idiot ACLU lawyers we Americans are being stripped of our security!! This is not a victory but rather a defeat for all sensible Americans!!

Mr. Why

It's a shame that Mr. Jarrar was profiled, but it's even worse that he would sue and the ACLU would take up his case. From the news articles the problem was solved at the airport when it happened. Personally, I think Mr. Jarrar was looking for a fight and the ACLU has become overloaded with lawyers instead of activists. Who goes to an airport with a shirt like he wore, I don't even wear shoes with laces anymore to get through security faster. This might have been a knee jerk settlement over the recent occurences with the Arabic family, but there has to some point where things do get investigated to quell the unrest of the public. The current administration has made us paranoid so that they can proceed undaunted, is there a solution? It's time the ACLU re-evaluate itself, instead of evaluating what sorts of settlements they can obtain, they should be evaluating what rights of ours they can protect.

213scott

I really think the ACLU is a joke, and bunch of legal CROOKS. I think Jet Blue was wrong for what they did, but taking this guys case for $240,000. You guys are a joke and a blemish to our country. I will not support the ACLU any more for these dumb actions, and hopefully now people see how much of a JOKE you people really are. You really did your self un justice and Aden Fine, your a bigger idot. I hope every thing back fires on your crooked ring of people. Fight for people that really need it, and not to line your pockets.

ConcernedScience

How do we know what that T-shirt said? It could have been a "Call to Arms" for airplane terrorists. This is America, where English is the 'unofficial' language. Until such time as every American must be conversant in ten trillion languages, English still prevails. Had the T-shirt depicted hard-core sex with four-letter phrases, I would expect the shirt to be covered, even though I, myself, might find it amusing. Just because American's enjoy the right to free speech, it doesn't mean we can say anything we want to at any time we choose. Prudence is fundamental. So is courtesy. I demand half of the $240,000 because I'm offended that he was discourteous to America.

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