As thousands of American Muslims prepare to make their once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca later this month, Islamic leaders have put out a guide for "flying while Muslim."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wants pilgrims from this country "to be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities as citizens and travelers when leaving from or returning to the United States."
"As an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel," the guide says. "It is illegal for law enforcement officials to perform any stops, searches, detentions or removals based solely on your race, religion, national origin, sex or ethnicity."
CAIR also offers practical suggestions, like putting any Zamzam — water from a well in Mecca deemed holy — in baggage rather than trying to carry it on the plane. It reminds American Muslims to clean any mud or dirt off their shoes, due to strict customs’ rules regarding entry of soil and chemicals into the country.
Hajj, which takes place Oct. 13-18 this year, is one of the "five pillars" of the Islamic faith, which include a declaration of faith, daily prayers, offering regular charity, and fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Peggy Fletcher Stack
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