Malaysia flag mistaken for American flag ‘desecrated by ISIS insignia’ leads to US lawsuit

A flag alleged to be an American flag “desecrated by ISIS insignia” turned out to be a Malaysia flag.

A Malaysian man has filed a discrimination lawsuit against a group he had rented a recreational lake property from in Kansas after it alleged that he had used an American flag “desecrated by ISIS insignia” at an outdoor party held there.

As it turned out, the flag in question turned out to be that of his home country.

Malaysia’s flag bears similarity to the US flag with red and white stripes and an upper left blue quarter.

The party, held last September and attended by “visibly Muslim people”, was meant to celebrate the Islamic religious celebration of El al-Adha, according to court documents filed in a Kansas district court on Friday (March 16).

The man, Munir Zainal, a senior stress engineer at Spirit Aerosystems, claims that the Spirit Boeing Employees’ Association (SBEA), took part in “an act of egregious racial profiling and blatant religious descrimination” by getting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate him and restricted his membership rights.

All this because an SBEA employee had deemed Munir “suspicious”.

SBEA is a non-profit group that offers recreational activities to some current and former Boeing and Spirit employees, and owns the property at the lake.

The party on Sept 2 was attended by about 45 guests, the majority of whom were of Malaysian Indian ancestry. Several female guests, including Mr Munir’s wife, were wearing hijabs.

One guest had brought along a Malaysian flag to the party, as the event took place shortly after the 60th anniversary of Malaysia’s Independence Day, and guests took turns to pose with it, said court documents.

SBEA reported Mr Munir to his company’s security team based on a concern that he was affiliated with radical Islamic terrorism and alleged that he had used the lake to hold an ISIS meeting. Spirit then allegedly filed a complaint with the FBI.

An FBI investigation later determined that the “desecrated flag” was a Malaysian flag and the investigations were closed.

In January 2018, SBEA told Mr Munir that his membership had been restricted due to the incident and that he was barred from renting the recreational lake facility.

Mr Munir has resided in Wichita, Kansas, since 2011 with his wife and two young children and is a US permanent resident.

He “continues to experience stress and anxiety relation to the FBI investigation” and is concerned that it could affect his lawful permanent resident status.

“He also feels distress and humiliation based on this experience of being singled-out because of this ethnicity, race and religion,” said court documents.