(CHICAGO, IL, 4/1/16) – The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today called on United Airlines to take corrective action after a Muslim family was removed from a flight, apparently without cause.
CAIR-Chicago sent a letter to the airlines on behalf of the family demanding disciplinary measures against the staff involved, sensitivity training for crew members and a formal apology to the family kicked off the flight.
Video: Muslim Family Kicked Off United Airlines Flight
On Sunday, March 20, a Muslim family with three young children was removed from a United Airlines flight before it took off from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Washington D.C.
The removal of the Muslim family reputedly came after they requested an additional strap for the youngest child’s booster seat. Following a discussion with the flight attendant about the strap and a request to remove the booster seat (which they did), the family was asked to show their tickets and told to leave the flight.
When the father asked for the reason for their family’s removal, he was told “because it is my decision.” The mother, wears an Islamic head scarf (hijab), asked if it was a “discriminatory decision.” The family then left the flight so as to not further frighten their children or inconvenience the other passengers. They completed their journey on a later flight.
“I felt singled-out, humiliated, and helpless,” the mother reported.
“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.
Rehab added: “Security means securing passengers, not harassing and humiliating them and booting them off their flight for, of all things, actually asking for security. This family did nothing to earn the flight crew’s scorn, other than trying to understand how they can best secure their baby. Several witnesses corroborate that. We expect United, which has a recent history of similar complaints, to take this incident and this general trend with all seriousness.”
He noted that CAIR publishes a “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” pocket guide that includes a section on “Your Rights as an Airline Passenger.” That guide states: “As an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel.”