Chicago Tribune: Suburban Muslim couple ejected from O’Hare flight sue United Airlines


On March 10th, the Chicago Tribune reports:

“The suit comes at a time of growing anxiety among Muslims who worry they can be targeted and removed from flights just for making other passengers feel uncomfortable, CAIR officials noted. That’s only intensified with President Donald Trump’s travel bans — the latest barring the issuance of new visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending the refugee program for 120 days. Attorneys for the couple also cited at least a dozen incidents in the last year and a half in which Muslims reportedly were asked to leave flights or were harassed because of unfounded fears of passengers or crew members.”

“We believe the time is right now to bring this to the attention of the courts and the federal government and ask for some accountability on behalf of the airlines — that’s really what this suit is about,” Phil Robertson, CAIR Chicago’s lead attorney who is representing the Shebleys in the suit, told reporters at the council’s downtown offices.

“This affects more than the Shebley family. … It affects our entire community,” said Ahmed Rehab, CAIR Chicago’s executive director. “There is a real strong sense of apprehension every time one of these stories emerge. People start to think, ‘Can I speak Arabic in an airport?’ Nobody should have to bite their tongue and start to feel as if they’re committing a crime just because they need to communicate with their elderly mother or father-in-law while standing in line in an American airport,” he said.

The Shebleys, of Libertyville, did not attend Friday’s news conference. CAIR officials said they preferred to stay out of the limelight.”

“That lasts a lifetime, to be honest with you,” said Maaria Mozaffar, another attorney working on the case. “When you remove the problem from the plane without just cause, that results in a demoralizing situation for a human being. And that should matter.”

Mozaffar also said: “What we saw here is the staff and the pilot, with their inherent bias, basically asked them to leave the plane despite the fact that they never not followed any directions. They were not a threat to any of the other passengers and, in fact, all the other passengers on the plane around them were supporting them.”