The star-and-moon lands Malaysian in trouble with FBI

The Malaysian flag with its red and white stripes was mistaken for a US flag which had been ‘desecrated with IS symbols’.

PETALING JAYA: A patriotic party thrown by Malaysian aerospace engineer Munir Zanial in Kansas, US, last year caused panic among locals, landing him in trouble with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who investigated him for terrorism.

Munir, who works for Spirits Aerosystem, had invited his fellow Malaysians to celebrate the 60th Merdeka last year, which fell on Aidiladha, at a lakeside space he rented from Spirit Boeing Employees’ Association (SBEA).

But a member of SBEA became suspicious of a “group dressed in Muslim garb” and “an American flag desecrated with IS symbols”.

According to US daily The Wichita Eagle, the majority of Munir’s guests were Malaysian Indians, some of whom had worn hijabs, and they had posed for photos with a Malaysian flag.

The following month, Munir discovered that he was being investigated by the FBI.

His SBEA membership was subsequently restricted.

His case was taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who filed a complaint of racial and religious discrimination against SBEA.

ACLU legal director Lauren Bonds said there was “absolutely no basis” to assume anything negative was going on, and that it was illogical how “something so small snowballed into this”.

“The only way you can explain this is prejudice and discrimination,” she was quoted as saying.

The FBI investigation was closed in October, but Munir’s SBEA membership remains restricted.

Munir, who has lived in Wichita since 2011, is now suing SBEA, as he is concerned that the investigation could affect his permanent resident status in the country.