A Muslim woman was kicked off her Seattle-born flight after she asked the man next to her if she could switch seats.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) thinks that it may have been based on a “bias motive” for her to be removed from the flight.
Zainab Chaudry, an official with CAIR, said that Hakima Abdulle was wearing a hijab when she boarded a flight heading to Seattle in Chicago. Not long after sitting down, she asked a man if she could switch seats with him so she could sit by the window. Before he could respond, a flight attendant told her that she wasn’t allowed to do that, despite Southwest Airlines having open seating for their customers.
Abdulle asked why she couldn’t switch, but the flight attendant didn’t give her a direct answer and simply asked her to exit the plane.
When police arrived, they asked the flight attendant if there was any reason she kicked Abdulle off the flight, and she responded, “No,” but that she “didn’t feel comfortable” with Abdulle on the flight.
Chaudry explains that the woman then had to wait a miserable and embarrassing three hours to get onto a different flight. When she reached out to Southwest Airlines to see why she was removed from the flight, she got no response.
“She suffered acute distress and anxiety as a result of this experience. She was publicly humiliated before a plane full of passengers,” said Chaudry, who is calling for an investigation and a formal apology by Southwest Airlines and to reimburse Ms Abdulle's airfare.
Chaudry added that she was “crying in front of everybody.”
CAIR has decided to call a news conference with the woman at its Washington, D.C. headquarters for Friday morning to "make sure Southwest does its due diligence," Chaudry said.
A statement from Southwest Airlines to The Independent said:
"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."
With incidents like these making headlines more and more often, it seems that this is becoming a disturbing new trend—especially when these obviously unjust actions continue to go unpunished.
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