BuzzFeed: Muslim Woman Alleges United Airlines Kicked Her Family Off A Flight For “How We Look”
On Wednesday, Shebley posted a message on Facebook alleging that she and her family were asked to leave a United Airlines flight in Chicago that was bound for Washington, D.C., for “no reason other than how we look.”
While the message says United Airlines crew members told her they get off the plane for “safety flight issues,” Shebley says it was “discrimination.”
“My three kids are too young to have experienced this,” she added.
In the message, she compared her experience to an incident in May, when another Muslim woman, Tahera Ahmad, alleged racial discrimination while aboard a United Airlines flight. Ahmad, who is a Northwestern University chaplain, said she was denied an unopened soda can from a flight attendant who said she “may use it as a weapon.”
Along with the message, Shebley also posted two videos of the incident that show United Airlines crew members asking her family to leave the plane.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, United Airlines said that the family was rebooked “on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations.”
The statement added that United has reached out to Shebley’s family, and that they “have zero tolerance for discrimination.”
The family said before they were told to leave the flight that they had inquired about 5-point harness safety seats for their children, WBIV reported.
The family told the news station they were never told what “safety flight issues” pertained to, but afterwards, customer service staff apologized multiple times for what happened and rebooked them on another flight.
After the incident, Shebley reached out to the Council on American–Islamic Relations about her concerns.
“I think it’s clear that if one of the passengers hadn’t been wearing a headscarf and if they didn’t look a certain way this wouldn’t have happened,” CAIR said to BuzzFeed News. “The response they gave just doesn’t add up. We need more answers.”
CAIR-Chicago sent a letter to the airlines on behalf of the family demanding disciplinary measures against the staff involved.
“We are tired of Muslim-looking passengers being removed from flights for the flimsiest reasons, under a cryptic claim of ‘security’,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said in a statement. “Security means securing passengers, not harassing and humiliating them and booting them off their flight for, of all things, actually asking for security.”