NEW YORK: A United Airlines pilot asked a Muslim family of five to leave a plane before it took off, citing “safety” issues.
Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley, her husband and three young children were about to take off on a flight bound for Washington at a Chicago airport when the pilot asked them to get off the aircraft.
The family had enquired earlier whether the air stewardess could provide five-point harness safety seats for their children.
Two videos filmed by Shebley show the air stewardess and then the pilot asking the family to leave.
Shebley asked the pilot whether it was a “discriminatory” decision. The pilot replied it was a “flight safety issue” but were not given any details.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to United Airlines on the family’s behalf demanding disciplinary action against the staff involved.
“We are tired of Muslim-looking passengers being removed from flights for the flimsiest reasons, under a cryptic claim of ‘security’,” said CAIR-Chicago executive director Ahmed Rehab said in a statement. “Security means securing passengers, not harassing and humiliating them and booting them off their flight for, of all things, actually asking for security.”
Shebley wrote on Facebook: “Shame on you ?#?unitedAirlines? for profiling my family and me for no reason other than how we look and kicking us off the plane for “safety flight issues” on our flight to DC for the kids spring break. My three kids are too young to have experienced this.”
Another Muslim woman and a Northwestern University chaplain, Tagera Ahmad, was denied a can of diet coke onboard a United Airlines flight in May as the flight attendant said she “may use it as a weapon”.
The airline apologised multiple times to Shebley’s family after they got off the plane and were rebooked on another flight.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, United Airlines said the family was rebooked “on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations” and said the airline has “zero tolerance for discrimination”.
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