If this is true, Jet Blue has some serious explaining to do. Raed Jarrar wore a T-shirt on his flight from JFK to Oakland reading “We will not be silent” in English and Arabic. The Jet Blue staff (and possibly others) disagreed, and told him he had to remove or cover up his shirt if he wanted to board the flight.
Then I once again asked the three of them : “How come you are asking me to change my t-shirt? Isn’t this my constitutional right to wear it? I am ready to change it if you tell me why I should. Do you have an order against Arabic t-shirts? Is there such a law against Arabic script?” so inspector Harris answered “you can’t wear a t-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads “I am a robber” and going to a bank”. I said “but the message on my t-shirt is not offensive, it just says “we will not be silent”. I got this t-shirt from Washington DC. There are more than a 1000 t-shirts printed with the same slogan, you can google them or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org . It is printed in many other languages: Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, English, etc.” Inspector Harris said: “We cant make sure that your t-shirt means we will not be silent, we don’t have a translator. Maybe it means something else”. I said: “But as you can see, the statement is in both Arabic and English”. He said “maybe it is not the same message”. So based on the fact that Jet Blue doesn’t have a translator, anything in Arabic is suspicious because maybe it’ll mean something bad!
They offered to buy him a new T-shirt to cover up his message. Initially, they thought a “I (heart) NY” T-shirt might be good, but one of them remarked “No, we shouldn’t ask him to go from one extreme to another.”
I would like to have an official response from Jet Blue. If it happened, I want to know how they are going to make sure that it won’t happen again. If it didn’t, I want a clear message indicating that they do not discriminate against non-English-language t-shirts. I also want to buy a shirt that reads in Arabic either “Coke is it!” or “I am not a terrorist” for my next trip.
(Click on the image above to get your own “Go Away” shirt. I would want some assurances from a native speaker that this is really what it says before wearing it around. I mean if I were going to get it as a tattoo, I wouldn’t need to be so worried, but as a T-shirt…)