News ID: 258976
Published: 1231 GMT September 20, 2019

Muslim men blame racial profiling for flight cancelation

Muslim men blame racial profiling for flight cancelation
REUTERS

Two Muslim men in the US demanded an investigation after they said they were subjected to racial and religious profiling on a flight home to Dallas.

Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh and Issam Abdallah allege their flight was canceled because crew members did not feel comfortable flying with the men, BBC reported.

"It was the most humiliating day of my life," Abdallah told reporters.

An American Airlines statement said "concerns raised by a crew member and a passenger" forced the cancelation.

"American and all of its regional partners have an obligation to take safety and security concerns raised by crew members and passengers seriously," the statement read.

 

What happened on flight?

 

Alkhawaldeh and Abdallah made the allegations in a news conference organized by the Council for American-Islamic Relations and broadcast on Facebook.

On September 14, both men were booked to travel from Birmingham, Alabama home to Dallas, Texas on an American Airlines flight operated by regional carrier Mesa Airlines. They were traveling separately, but recognized one another from the local Muslim community and waved to each other on board.

An announcer said the plane was delayed, and Abdallah went to the bathroom. When he came out, he said a flight attendant was standing by the door "like she was eavesdropping."

Shortly afterward the crew told all passengers that the flight was canceled and they had to disembark the plane. Alkhawaldeh said he heard one attendant telling a passenger this was for security reasons.

Once off the plane, the pair said they were approached by a plainclothes man, uniformed officers and later by an FBI agent.

This agent took Abdallah into a private room and allegedly asked him his name and about his job, and said his luggage would be searched again.

When Abdallah asked what was happening, the agent allegedly said airline staff had called the police and told them they were "not comfortable flying" with him. The reason, the agent allegedly said, was that Abdallah "went to the restroom and... flushed twice".

According to Abdallah, the agent apologized to him and said he could go and catch his rescheduled flight. "I felt [they were] discriminating against my ethnicity, my religion," Abdallah said.

All the passengers were rebooked on a later flight to Dallas.

 

What did airline say?

 

"We're committed to providing a positive experience to everyone who travels with us," the American Airlines statement read.

"Our team is working with Mesa to review this incident, and we have reached out to Mr. Alkhawaldeh and Mr. Abdallah to better understand their experience."

The airline has faced accusations of discrimination in the past.

Earlier this year the airline apologized for allegedly telling a female passenger to hide her outfit with a blanket.

And in 2017, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a human rights group, warned black flyers that American Airlines "could subject [travelers to] disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions."

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
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