Muslim Advocacy Group Slams Southwest Airlines For Kicking Female Muslim Passenger Off Plane

The Muslim advocacy group CAIR, Council on American–Islamic Relations, is demanding an investigation into why Southwest Airlines kicked a female Muslim passenger off of a Seattle-bound flight. The group claims the Maryland woman was removed from the plane because a flight attendant “did not feel comfortable” with her remaining on the flight after she switched seats with another passenger. The woman’s husband says he believes the flight removal was religiously motivated and that his wife was kicked off the flight due to her traditional, Muslim dress.

The Daily Mail reports that a Muslim woman from Maryland, Hakima Abdulle, was flying from Chicago to Seattle to be with her niece who was about to give birth. However, once on the flight, Abdulle asked a fellow passenger if they would switch seats with her so that she could sit in the aisle. Though the other Southwest Airlines passenger had no problem switching seats with Hakima, the flight attendant did. According to the woman’s report, the flight attendant intervened when the pair began to switch seats and asked Mrs. Abdulle to leave the flight. Upon exiting the flight, Hakima’s husband Abukar Fadaw says he was given no reason as to why his wife was removed from the plane.

Fadaw says that he was not with his wife on the flight, but he was on the phone with her when the encounter took place. He says he repeatedly asked Southwest Airlines for an explanation as to why his wife was removed but he has not been given an answer. Fadaw says his wife does not speak English and was humiliated and confused by the incident. He says she suffered “extreme distress and anxiety” due to the experience.

“She was humiliated because of her religion and the way she dressed.”

Though Mr. Fadaw claims his wife was singled out because of her religion, Southwest Airlines says they are unable to share details about the removal to help protect customer privacy but says that the company does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.

“Out of respect for the customer’s privacy, we will not share specifics about her conduct or travel experience. Southwest Employees welcome hundreds of millions of Customers onboard annually. 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.”

According to the Baltimore Sun, Southwest’s response is not enough. CAIR wants an investigation to take place to detail exactly why Abdulle was asked to leave the flight. The group says that Southwest has not been able to provide a “credible explanation” as to why Abdulle was removed from the flight.

The woman and her husband have also made a list of demands for Southwest. The family says they want no financial compensation from Southwest Airlines but do request that the following four demands are met: that Southwest begin a prompt investigation, apologize to Abdulle in person, reimburse her airfare and insure that its employees have appropriate diversity training.

The Muslim advocacy group says that Hakima Abdulle’s experience is not the first in recent months. In fact, the group claims that an increasing number of passengers with Muslim appearance have been removed from flights with little to no explanation. What do you think about Southwest Airlines removing Hakima Abdulle from the flight? Should airlines be forced to explain why they are removing a passenger, or should flight attendants and pilots have the ability to remove any passenger as they see fit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

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