We recently flew Royal Air Maroc on their new direct flight out of DC to Casablanca, returning just this past weekend. A mere 7.5 hour trip! Amazing! Like flying to the West Coast! Usually we go through Europe, making it not just a longer trip, but a more challenging one depending on the country through which we transit. So my husband and I kept marveling at how easy it would now be to visit our families in Morocco.
That didn’t last long.
On Tuesday, the Administration banned having any electronics “larger than a cell phone” in the cabin of an airplane traveling to the United States and originating from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries because word came down about an “imminent threat.” So if we flew back a week later on that same Royal Air Maroc flight, no iPad or Kindle for us. But if instead of flying back directly from Casa we flew through Europe as we usually do, yes to the iPad or Kindle.
Because the so-called terrorists plotting this so-called threat are going to be put off by the inability to fly direct?
Because the so-called terrorists plotting this so-called threat can’t make things happen with their cell phone?
It’s hard to give the Administration the benefit of the doubt that this is actually based on some sort of genuinely credible threat, particularly in light of how much of dog going after a bone the Administration has been about the Muslim travel ban. It’s also hard not to think that this decision has nothing to actually do with trying to help U.S.-based carriers who have been struggling to keep up with some of the international carriers who are owned or subsidized by their government, such as Emirates and Etihad.
The whole thing is racist and opportunistic. And it’s embarrassing.
So Now What?
Realistically speaking, I don’t see this going away. There are some measures that the affected carriers could go through the World Trade Organization to try and work this out, but that’s a bit of a Hail Mary.
As long as Muslims are vilified in our culture – in movies, in politics, through exaggerated or false news – these sorts of policies will not stop. We need to strengthen the voices of Muslims trying rising up against the vilification.
So today, I want you to check out a great organization: Muslim Public Affairs Council. MPAC works to combat stereotypes of Muslims in media and in politics. They train Muslims on how to address issues at the local level. They have amazing intern programs in Hollywood and DC. They’ve done bus ad campaigns to fight back against Islamaphobic advertising. And on and on. They deserve your attention and your support.