(Washington, DC, 11/18/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its Chicago chapter today are calling on Spirit Airlines to issue a public apology to four passengers who were removed from a Chicago-bound flight at the Baltimore Washington International Airport in Baltimore, Md. Tuesday morning.
Spirit Airlines Flight 969 was preparing for takeoff from Baltimore when a passenger alerted a flight attendant of “suspicious activity” on board the plane. The “suspicious activity” she referred to apparently was a man who appeared to be of Middle-Eastern descent watching a news clip on his mobile phone.
The four passengers were asked to exit the plane at the flight captain’s request before the flight resumed to Chicago. None of them were charged with any crime. Alert levels have been heightened after last Friday’s Paris terror attacks for which the terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility.
“Americans of all faiths and ethnicities should be able to travel freely without being harassed or subjected to unconstitutional racial or religious profiling,” said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry. “These passengers were inconvenienced and forced to endure humiliating treatment and invasive questioning for no apparent substantial reason other than because their perceived ethnicity caused alarm in a fellow passenger. We call on Spirit Airlines to issue a public apology to all four passengers and take steps to ensure this does not happen again.”
“The threshold for ‘see something, say something’ is meant to apply to suspicious behavior, not personal prejudices against minorities engaging in non-suspicious behavior,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab. “Watching news on your smartphone has never qualified as a security threat or as suspicious behavior and could have been easily vetted as such with minimal inquiry by the flight crew. That this was escalated into an ordeal seems to be exclusively due to the passenger’s perceived ethnicity.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.