By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The top story on cnn.com right now is " Muslim family booted from plane."
It's a reminder of the degree to which we're still living in the shadow of Sept. 11, 2001, and of the huge role religion plays in that mode of existence.
The family, which raised suspicions of other passengers when they started discussing plane safety, was cleared by the FBI, but not before being escorted off the plane. CNN sets the scene:
...[W]hile the plane was still at the gate, an FBI agent boarded the plane and asked [Atif] Irfan and his wife to leave the plane. The rest of the family was removed 15 or 20 minutes later, along with a family friend, Abdul Aziz, a Library of Congress attorney and family friend who was coincidentally taking the same flight and had been seen talking to the family.
...Irfan said he believes his family is owed an apology.
"Really, at the end of the day, we're not out here looking for money. I'm an attorney. I know how the court system works. We're basically looking for someone to say...'We're apologizing for treating you as second-class citizens.'"
Was this an overreaction by the family's fellow passengers, by the federal marshals who alerted security, or by the FBI agents who forced the family off the plane. Or was it all entirely reasonable, given the circumstances? I recently read religion scholar Stephen Prothero's book, Religious Literacy, which argues that Americans' ignorance of religion is dangerous in an age in which grasping religion, including Islam, is essential to understanding the world around us. In the case of the Muslim family booted off the plane, would it have made a difference if the passengers were more familiar with Islam? Or should they have been suspicious either way?