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Published on : Saturday, April 16, 2016
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) feels that the incident occurred due to a bias against Muslims. The woman was from Somali and wearing a headscarf.
The woman, Hakima Abdulle was travelling alone and requested her co passenger to exchange seats with her. She wished to move to the aisle seat. She was on her way to Seattle to help a pregnant family member.
Soon after Abdulle changed seats a flight attendant came to her and told her that they were not allowed to change seats even when airline policy offered unassigned seating.
She was asked to disembark by the flight attendant and was not given an adequate response on why she was asked to leave the plane. The fight attendant later responded to police queries that since she did not feel comfortable with the passenger she asked her to get off the plane.
After Ms Abdulle asked to speak to the supervisor she was rebooked in another flight to Seattle several hours later.
Zainab Chaudry, the Maryland Outreach Manager at CAIR said that she suffered acute distress and anxiety along with public humiliation. He felt that Ms. Abdulle should be reimbursed her airfare and demanded a thorough investigation in the matter with a formal apology from the Southwest Airlines.
Her husband too expressed his outrage at the humiliation his wife faced. He said that she broke off crying in front of all the passengers. He wanted to know over the phone as he spoke to the flight attendant why his wife was escorted off the plane, she could hardly speak English but the flight attendant did not respond.
Muslim traveller are frequently discriminated against in American carriers as the couple’s layer William Burgess, noted that it is violation of law to discriminate against someone based on their religion but almost dozens of similar reports have been reported this year alone.
In an official statement made by Southwest Airlines it was stated, ” Information available, collected at the time of the event, indicates that our employees followed proper procedures in response to this customer’s actions while onboard the aircraft. Out of respect for the customer’s privacy, we will not share specifics about her conduct or travel experience. We are not in the business of removing passengers from flights without reason; our goal is to get each one of our Customers to their final destination safely. We are responsible for the comfort of all passengers and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
Ms Chaudry feels that the trend is alarming against Muslims as cases of discrimination are on the rise.