A Muslim passenger was kicked off of an American Airlines flight after a flight attendant pointed him out to other passengers, then claimed she felt “uncomfortable” when he complained, the Independent is reporting.
Back in December, 2015, Mohamed Ahmed Radwan boarded an American Airlines flight in Charlotte, North Carolina, bound for Detroit. Radwan, who is a Muslim, says that a flight attendant went to the microphone and announced, to the entire plane, “Mohamed Ahmed, Seat 25-A, I will be watching you.” According to the Charlotte Observer, the flight attendant went up to the microphone a short time, later, this time making fun of Radwan’s name. “Mohamed Ahmed, that is a very long name, Seat 25-A, I will be watching you.” Radwan claims that the flight attendant then went to the microphone and made a third announcement. “25-A: you will be watched.”
Radwan says that the flight crew didn’t publicly name or identify any other passengers.
“I was in total shock. I’ve been flying for over 30 years, and I’ve never heard something like that.”
When Radwan complained, he alleges the flight attendant told him he was being “too sensitive” and then walked away. He then took his complaint to other members of the flight crew. Then, he says, he was told that he was making the first flight attendant “uncomfortable,” and he was escorted off of the flight.
Radwan says he had to purchase tickets on another flight, at a cost of $1,500, and that the incident interfered with his travel plans.
He has since brought his complaint to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). In a letter sent to the Department of Transportation (you can read the letter here), CAIR staff attorney Maha Sayed demanded an investigation into the incident.
“Worse than the inconvenience and unreasonable delay that was inflicted upon Mr. Radwan, American Airlines humiliated Mr. Radwan by making statements that falsely portrayed him as a potential terrorist or threat.”
Flight crew have almost unlimited discretion when it comes to removing passengers from flights, according to a May 2016 Fortune report.
The culprit is a provision in FAA regulations that says that passengers can’t “insult, threaten, or interfere with [a crew member].” Flight crews have interpreted that provision as giving them the latitude to eject a passenger for just about any reason, says Fortune writer Christopher Elliott.
And use that latitude they have. Passengers have been kicked off planes for seemingly ridiculous reasons, including speaking Arabic, doing math equations, or even, according to an April, 2016, L.A. Times report, staring at the flight attendants.
That many of those “discretionary” removals seem to be targeted toward Muslims is not lost on CAIR.
“This incident is particularly troubling given the recent wave of incidents in which airline personnel have arbitrarily removed passengers of Muslim and/or Middle Eastern background without an objectively reasonable cause or explanation,”
In a statement, American Airlines claims that the airline had reviewed CAIR’s allegations and determined that the flight crew did nothing wrong.
“We serve customers of all backgrounds and faiths and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
CAIR wants the Department of Transportation to conduct an investigation into the incident, as well as look into the larger practice of airlines removing passengers for discretionary reasons. CAIR would like to see the DoT develop an objective set of criteria for removing passengers from planes.
Do you believe that Mr. Radwan was wrongly targeted for discrimination and removed from an American Airlines flight because he’s a Muslim?
[Image via Shutterstock/Tupungato]