United Press International: Men speaking Arabic ground U.S. plane

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Repeated complaints by a woman passenger concerned about six men speaking Arabic on a San Diego to Chicago American Airlines flight prevented take-off.

The incident late Tuesday night began when the unidentified woman complained before boarding about the men to American Airlines staff, and continued her complaints after boarding. The plane left the gate and began taxiing at 11:14 p.m., and the woman persisted in her complaints. The captain returned to the gate 12 minutes later, the San Diego Tribune reported Thursday.

The airport has an 11:30 p.m. curfew, so the flight carrying 126 people was rescheduled for Wednesday morning.

Investigators interviewed the woman who complained as well as the six men, the report said.

It turns out the men were Iraqi-Americans who had been training Marines at Camp Pendelton, Calif., for deployment in Iraq. The incident upset Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Counsel for Islamic Relations in Chicago.

“Judging people by their language is one step removed from judging people by their race or religion,” Rehab told WLS-TV, Chicago.

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