A Muslim family of five, which was ordered to deboard from a United Airlines flight, is seeking a formal apology from the American airliner for what they call was Islamophobia.
The pilot of the Washington-bound flight asked Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley, her husband and their three young children to get off the plane at Chicago O’Hare International Airport last month before taking off, citing “safety issues”.
The family had enquired earlier whether the air stewardess could provide five-point harness safety seats for their children.
Two videos filmed by Shebley, that have gone viral with over 46,000 views already, show the air stewardess and then the pilot asking the family to leave following which she asked the pilot whether it was a “discriminatory” decision.
The pilot replied it was a “flight safety issue” but did not give any details.
“We are tired of Muslim-looking passengers being removed from flights for the flimsiest reasons, under a cryptic claim of ‘security’,” said Ahmed Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is representing the family.
“Security means securing passengers, not harassing and humiliating them and booting them off their flight for, of all things, actually asking for security,” Rehab said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has sent a letter to United Airlines on the family’s behalf demanding disciplinary action against the staff involved, media reports said today.
“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,” she said in a Facebook post on March 30.
“SHARE so that we Americans stand together to stop discrimination... It’s definitely a trend with #Unitedairlines flights from Chicago to DC, remember #TaheraAhmad?” she added, recalling the incident involving United Airlines in May last year, when Ahmad alleged discrimination due to Islamophobia onboard.
She had asked for an unopened can of Diet Coke but was denied due to what she said was apprehension that she may use it as a ‘weapon’ on the plane.
About the latest incident, United said it was all about the booster seat.
“They were originally scheduled to fly on SkyWest 5811, operating as United Express from Chicago O’Hare to Washington, D.C., but we rebooked them on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations,” United said in a statement, adding that it has “zero tolerance for discrimination”.
Reports that the airline apologised multiple times to Shebley’s family after they got off the plane and were rebooked on another flight.