Over the last several years, many Arabic-speaking individuals have reported being removed from their flights after speaking Arabic on board, as it made other passengers feel uncomfortable after falsely associating the language with terrorism. The last incident reportedly took place on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco, after a passenger protested the fact that two other passengers were texting in Arabic.
.@AlaskaAir is being called out for kicking two Muslim men off a plane for… texting in #Arabic?@cair_wa is now calling on #Alaska Airlines to address this “#flyingwhileMuslim” incident. @imraansiddiqi @HatemBazian #alaskaairlines #Islamophobia https://t.co/7zD0ZeDMMi— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) December 19, 2020
Despite the incident taking place last February, a press release published by the Council on American-Islamic Relations addressed Alaska Airlines, providing more details on the incident.
According to their lawyer, Abobakkr and Mohamed were reported by another passenger for being "suspicious" after one of them had sent a few Arabic text messages, while waiting in their first-class seats.
Following the complaint, the two passengers were asked to leave the plane and were questioned by the FBI as their messages were translated into English to identify whether or not they constitute a security threat, before finally being allowed to leave.
A few years ago, Southwest kicked a Muslim passenger off a plane for saying “inshallah”https://t.co/95cKYuFj0q— Imraan Siddiqi (@imraansiddiqi) December 18, 2020
The airline industry has not learned.
So what if they were texting in Arabic. That's not a crime. Maybe people should learn a foreign language before crying wolf that traumatized and humiliated those 2 passengers— enigmaticmuse808 ❤ (@sparklenaloha) December 18, 2020
However, Abobakkr and Mohamed's lawyer revealed that the two travelers had decided to not escalate the issue last February so as not to cause the airline further damage; saying that it had coincided with the disastrous hit caused by COVID-19. However, now that vaccines are approved and the industry is bracing for recovery, they have decided to call on Alaska Airlines to properly apologize for the distress the incident had caused them.
We’re deeply sorry for Abobakkr & Mohamed’s experience last February while traveling with us. They should not have been removed from their flight & regret how the situation escalated. We have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind & have launched an internal investigation.— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) December 18, 2020
As soon as the press release was shared online, Alaska Airlines responded immediately with an apology to the two passengers, saying that they "have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind & have launched an internal investigation."
*me at a random selective security check at airport for being an Arab*— Rawdha (@rozsterr) October 19, 2016
"Are you Muslim??"
"I don't know I'm still exploring"
Post the 9/11 terrorist attacks, thousands of Americans of Middle Eastern backgrounds have reported suffering from frequent racial profiling while traveling across the US, in addition to being singled out for extra "random" checks at airports.
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