Muslim chaplain felt discrimination on United flight & truly disappointed

Published on : Tuesday, June 2, 2015

United AirlinesAhmad, 31, A Muslim chaplain and director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University, was traveling Friday from Chicago to Washington for a conference promoting dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youths.


According to her for hygienic reasons, she asked for an unopened can of soda. But the flight attendant told her that she could not give her one but then handed an unopened can of beer to a man seated nearby. The incident happened on a Shuttle America flight that feeds United.


Flight attendant told her “We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a weapon on the plane,” she recalled.


Charles Hobart United spokesman said that a flight attendant had tried several times to accommodate Ahmad’s beverage request but that there was a “misunderstanding.” Hobart did not elaborate on the so-called misunderstanding but said United officials spoke to the chaplain Saturday afternoon to “get a better understanding” of what happened and to apologize for “for not delivering the service our customers expect when traveling with us.”


On Monday Bob Birge, spokesman for Shuttle America’s parent company, Republic Airways Holdings, said that Republic beverage policy doesn’t prohibit serving unopened cans to passengers.


Ahmad wrote on Facebook, that she was “truly disappointed” with the airline’s response, which she said “disregarded and trivialized” the discrimination she experienced.


Ahmad, has Premier frequent-flier status with the airline, wrote that she been served unopened beverages on previous United flights and that she did not want the flight attendant fired.


Ahmad said that when she told the flight attendant she felt she was being discriminated against, the attendant abruptly opened the beer can of the man seated near her.


The flight attendant as well as the pilot later apologized, she said.


In a national survey by the Pew Research Center in 2013, 42% of respondents said Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. In addition, Muslim-Americans are seen as facing more discrimination than other groups, including gays and lesbians, Hispanics, African-Americans and women.


In the same survey, 45% of the respondents said Muslim-Americans face “a lot” of discrimination, and 28% said Muslims are subject to some discrimination.

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