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macfarquhar - Terror Fears Hamper U.S Muslims Travel Erin...

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Terror Fears Hamper U.S. Muslims' Travel  Erin Trieb for The New York Times "If I was a crazy Muslim fundamentalist, this is not the disguise I would go with," says Azhar Usman, who performed recently in Carrollton, Tex. But what is funny on stage hurts the comedian in real life. By NEIL MacFARQUHAR Published: June 1, 2006 SAN FRANCISCO, May 31 — Azhar Usman, a burly American-born  Muslim with a heavy black beard, says he elicits an almost universal  reaction when he boards an airplane at any United States airport:  conversations stop in midsentence and the look in the eyes of his fellow  passengers says, "We're all going to die!"   Readers’ Opinions Forum: National Security   Threats & Responses Go to Complete Coverage »   Enlarge this Image
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Kenneth Dickerman for The New York Times Ahmed Ahmed, whose name matches an alias of a colleague of Osama bin Laden, jokes about his visits to airports, but underneath the one-liners, the treatment grates. He performed recently in Orland Park, Ill. For Ahmed Ahmed, a comedian, it is even worse. His double-barreled  name matches an occasional alias used by a henchman of  Osama bin   Laden . "It's a bad time to be named Ahmed right now," he riffs in his  stand-up routine, before describing being hauled through the Las Vegas  airport in handcuffs.  Taleb Salhab and his wife say they too were dragged away in handcuffs  at the border crossing in Port Huron, Mich., as their two preschool  daughters wailed in the back seat of their car. The Salhabs were  discharged after four hours of questioning, with no explanation from  customs officers.  Getting through United States airports and border crossings has grown  more difficult for everyone since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. But  Muslim Americans say they are having a harder time than most,  sometimes facing an intimidating maze of barriers, if not outright  discrimination. Advocacy groups have taken to labeling their  predicament "traveling while Muslim," and accuse the government of  ignoring a serious erosion of civil rights. Next month, the American Civil  Liberties Union will go back to court to broaden a suit on behalf of 
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Muslims and Arab-Americans who are demanding the United States  government come up with a better system for screening travelers.  The delays, humiliation and periodic roughing up have prompted some  American Muslims to avoid traveling as much as possible. Some even 
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