phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Word Spy: flying while Muslim

Posted by ESC on March 04, 2004

flying while Muslim pp.

At airports or on planes, the racial profiling of a person who is or who appears to be a Muslim. Also: FWM.

Example Citations: On Sept. 26, 2002, Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen born in Syria, was returning to Montreal from Tunisia when he was taken into custody at New York's Kennedy Airport. Shackled and interrogated by INS, FBI and other agencies for several days, Arar repeatedly asked for an
attorney, but was refused one. ...

Arar never was charged with a crime. But his real offense might have been simply FWM -- flying while Muslim. --Lawrence Swaim, "Laws need to change," The Argus (Fremont, CA), February 4, 2004

Mahdi Bray of the Muslim American Society said he used to worry about racial profiling as a driver who is black.

"Now I have to be concerned about flying while Muslim," he said. --Stephanie Erickson, "Concerned about civil rights," Orlando Sentinel, December 15, 2002

Notes: This phrase is a play on "driving while black" (or DWB), having a car pulled over (by a police officer) for no other reason than the driver
is black. This in turn was a riff on "driving while intoxicated" (DWI), an actual offense. Some phrases similar to flying while Muslim are "flying while Arab" and "flying while brown" .

Earliest Citation:
"I've faced both kinds of profiling: driving while black and flying while Muslim," said the 28-year-old student. "If we get to the point where we begin curbing our civil liberties and the rights of certain
people, I think the terrorists have won." -- Joyce Purnick, "Last Week, Profiling Was Wrong," The New York
Times, September 15, 2001