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Saturday, November 25, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Muslims protest with prayer at Sea-Tac

Six Seattle-area Muslims gathered in prayer Friday in front of a US Airways ticket counter at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to protest the removal of six imams from a flight in Minneapolis earlier this week.

The prayer lasted eight minutes without incident.

"We are asserting the right of Muslims to be free of fear, free of apprehension, to take an equal seat at the table," said Jafar Siddiqui, a member of American Muslims of Puget Sound.

Afterward, airport patron Frank Meyers, of San Jose, Calif., accused airport terminal managers of being "politically correct" by allowing the prayer service to block a public elevator.

"We're in a war, sir," he told an airport terminal manager. "We're in a war against terrorism. Do you have any concept of that?"

The imams were removed from the flight to Phoenix on Monday night after three of them said their usual evening prayers in the terminal in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport before boarding, said Omar Shahin, president of the North American Imams Federation, who was one of the passengers removed.

According to a police report, a US Airways manager said three of the men had one-way tickets and none checked baggage. Some of the men also asked for seat-belt extensions even though a flight attendant told police she thought they didn't need them.

A national Muslim group has planned a much larger pray-in for Monday morning at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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