Wear that T-shirt proudly

Sometimes it's worth fighting for your rights. Not only will you get justice for yourself, you'll help others avoid the same plight.

An airline passenger forced to cover his T-shirt because it
displayed Arabic script has been awarded 240,000 dollars in
compensation, campaigners said Monday.

Raed Jarrar received the pay out on Friday from two US Transportation Security Authority officials and from JetBlue Airways following the August 2006 incident at New York's JFK Airport, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced.

"The outcome of this case is a victory for free speech and a blow to the discriminatory practice of racial profiling," said Aden Fine, a lawyer with ACLU.

Jarrar, a US resident, was apprehended as he waited to board a JetBlue flight from New York to Oakland, California, and told to remove his shirt, which had written on it in Arabic: "We will not be silent."

He was told other passengers felt uncomfortable because an
Arabic-inscribed T-shirt in an airport was like "wearing a T-shirt at a
bank stating, I am a robber,'" the ACLU said. [Link]

That's crazy, of course. The message on his T-shirt was harmless. He shouldn't have been punished for everyone else's ignorance. What would come next, a law that only English words are permitted on T-shirts?

Jarrar's case will probably make it easier to wear certain types of T-shirts while flying. But if you're going to wear any of these, do so at your own risk:


If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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