Hold up…


Student detained over Arabic flashcards, lawsuit says

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Federal agents handcuffed, detained and “abusively” interrogated a US student at Philadelphia International Airport because he was carrying Arabic flashcards, a lawsuit claimed Wednesday.pic

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against FBI agents, police and others on behalf of Nicholas George, saying the 22-year-old was held for nearly five hours at the airport in August and missed his flight back to school in California as a result.

The complaint also linked his arrest at an airport screening checkpoint to a book critical of US foreign policy that he was carrying — “Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions,” by Clyde Prestowitz.

AFP Article


What is happening to the world? Yes, September 11th had a horrific impact on our Nation. Yes, I understand the individuals that planned the attack were from the Middle East. Yes, airport security is important. Racial profiling, however, is not. There is a fine line between figuring out whether someone is a potential risk to passengers on a flight and blatantly discriminating against anyone that has Middle Eastern background or in this case interest in the Arabic language. The racial stereotypes that have erupted after September 11th have created a completely uncomfortable experience for Middle Eastern travelers, not only in the United States, but across the world.

It is unfortunate that due to a group of complete strangers’ immoral and illegal actions millions of people of Middle Eastern decent are facing rash consequences, when in fact all that they share is either similar ethnicity, religion or race. It is also ironic to think of the superior treatment Americans attain when they visit foreign and especially Middle Eastern countries. They are not ridiculed at the airports, like Arab Americans are in U.S. airports, they are not pulled aside every time they walk through the metal detectors and their bags are not searched to the last single piece of underwear at the bottom of the suitcase.

Where has the American justice gone? Nicholas George was just carrying a stack of Arabic flashcards and got pulled over, handcuffed and delayed five hours on his journey back to California. The indicator which alarmed the staff at the security checkpoint was flashcards…When that statement is said aloud, does anyone feel like there is complete hypocrisy and discrimination in the beloved “Land of Opportunities?” George was released after an intense search process was fulfilled and as a result is filing a lawsuit against the police department, FBI agents and others involved.

Just when Arab Americans were starting to feel back at home in the U.S., something else starts up to bring them back to rock bottom. My question is this…Will prejudice against individuals of Middle Eastern decent come to an end anytime while I am still alive? (I am 22-years-old) Or will there always be a new threat or worry preventing them from leading content and easy lives?





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5 Responses to Hold up…

  1. kwashburn says:

    I think this is such a shame. It is incidences like this that give the United States a bad reputation in the sense that we can at times, be ignorant and stereotype. It is completely understandable that we are overprotective, on-guard and on-edge about our nation’s security, but we need to choose our battles wisely. If there is not an absolute red flag or obvious reason for us to stop someone, then we shouldn’t pick them out of a crowd and single them out because of their race…or in this case because of their interest in a specific subject. I think this was ridiculous and shameful.

  2. jmetz says:

    I agree that we should not be stereotyping and be “ignorant” to certain races, however I also strongly believe in protecting our country and doing whatever we need to do in order to make sure the United States does not have another Christmas scare, let alone another 9.11. I am proud to live in a country where I feel safe and protected at all times. Yes, we can go too far sometimes in making sure we are secure, however I think that is what we need to do to make sure we are protected. I personally rather be safe than sorry. I acknowledge that some people feel that our officers can go too far, however I think that this is where it has come to. There was a report last week that Al Qaeda is going to attack within the next three to six months. I don’t know about others but I personally worried for my friends and family’s life that live and breathe NYC on a daily basis. I have confidence in our country and I think that they need to do whatever they can to make sure another terrorist attack does not harm the United States.

  3. jalbaz says:

    This is unfortunate that they stopped this college kid for a long time over flash-cards. If he didn’t fit any type of profile they had been warned about that day or whatever their protocols are, I think this was unfair. It seems as if some airports are too lax on secruity and others like this one are paranoid or take things to the extreme. Arabic flash cards are not a reason to stop someone. Unless there was another valid reason they stopped him. This is a difficult case because many people are very touchy about this. Yes, I am sorry for innocent Arab Americans who have to deal with this in result of terrorrist Arabs from the middle east, but then again I understand that America is just trying to be safe and prevent a future attacks.

  4. dsmith says:

    I agree with Jmetz. Yes maybe the FBI went too far on this one basing the threat on the student’s flash cards and race, but can we ever be sure? Wouldn’t we rather have an incident like this then another 9/11? Not to mention we have had several scares and terrorist attempts since then. It would be worse to ignore signs and clues in the fear of being politically correct. In addition, if this student had turned out to be a serious threat and he wasn’t screened, the same people would be quick to point the blame to the FBI for not doing their job. It’s a tricky situation because as Americans we are suppose to be worldly and hospitable to all cultures, but in some situations what if doing so compromises our safety?

  5. ebratkovich says:

    This is awful! I understand we have to be extra careful and security needs to be taken very seriously but singling someone out solely because of their race or the language in a book, notes, flash cards etc. is completely unfair. I can’t even begin to imagine how this student felt when he was held for nearly five hours. Security definitely needed more reasons to take him away and the fact that they made him miss his next flight is even worse. I hope he was compensated for this. I would also rather be safe than sorry but I think this just crosses the line.

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