CAIR-Chicago Media Blitz Challenges Airline Discrimination

After participating in a press conference against Islamophobia and in support of refugees, CAIR-Chicago held its second full house news conference of the day this past Friday. This time about Spirit & Southwest airlines and the recent string of Muslim-looking passengers being removed due to complaints by other passengers. We had already done many interviews on the matter but Spirit Airlines recently issued a statement claiming the removed passengers were non-compliant, so this time we had with us a brave eyewitness, Tilesha Northern, who stepped up to the plate to call out Spirit’s cover up; she witnessed full compliance and insists the issue was simply put: bias.

We made the following points clear in various media outlets:

“This is not about a petty back-and-forth with one airline. This is about a much larger issue. Houston, we have a problem that we must have a national conversation about instead of brushing it under the carpet with the pretense of security.

The problem is this: today, we are on the brink of instituting someone’s color, religion, or language spoken as an acceptable de facto standard of suspicious activity. It’s that simple.

We are here to say absolutely NOT.

On Spirit, four people were removed because one of them watched the news on their phone. On Southwest 1, two were refused to boarding because they spoke Arabic. On Southwest 2, six were denied boarding altogether because they looked Arab.

In all 3 cases, it was not direct airline bias, but bias from fellow passengers who complained and insisted the Arab/Muslim looking or sounding passengers be removed or denied boarding. However, in all 3 cases the airlines and security personnel complied with the passengers’ blatant bias as PROCEDURE.

And the news media for the most part let them off the hook under the pretense that they’re just doing their job, “see something say something” right?

But we are here to say something too. And that is: these were cases of “see nothing say something” and the current airline security procedures have zero contingencies for such cases.

These were cases of “non-suspicious” behavior treated like it was. Because what is REALLY being stated without being said and what they are tacitly asking us to accept is that a passenger’s skin color, language or religion is fair game as a criterion for suspicion in the aftermath of major terror news story.

Nope, sorry. We need a national conversation. We will not let you systemize prejudice under the cover of security.”

Help us lead the fight to ensure that being Muslim or looking Muslim is NOT a standard of suspicious behavior on a plan.

Support our efforts here with your generous contributions.

#NonSuspiciousBehavior #SeeBigotrySaySomething


Southwest Airlines has become the subject of criticism over reports that it singled out Muslim or Middle Eastern passengers on two flights this week, after fellow fliers said they feared for their safety if those passengers were allowed to fly.

As Ahmed Rehab of CAIR-Chicago, says: “The threshold for ‘see something, say something’ is meant to apply to suspicious behavior, not personal prejudices against minorities engaging in non-suspicious behavior.”

After a string of discrimination against Middle Eastern peoples on Spirit and Southwest Airlines, CAIR-Chicago demanded accountability.

CAIR-Chicago stood by Tilesha Northern, a witness to several Middle Eastern passengers being removed from Spirit Airlines flight 969, as she contradicted the Airlines’ story and reiterated CAIR-Chicago’s demand for an apology.

Univision covered CAIR-Chicago’s Friday press conference in response to Spirit Airlines failure to apologize for discrimination.

WGN Channel 9 visited CAIR-Chicago’s downtown office to cover the rising problem of Islamophobia in air travel.


CAIR-Chicago’s original demand for an apology came on Wednesday, November 18, after several passengers of Middle Eastern descent on Spirit Airlines Flight 969 were removed without reasonable suspicion.

CAIR-Chicago called on Spirit Airlines to issue a public apology to four passengers who were removed from a Chicago-bound flight.

CAIR-Chicago demanded an apology from Spirit Airlines after passengers were removed from a flight for looking Middle Eastern.

Fox32 Chicago visited CAIR-Chicago’s offices after a press release sent Wednesday demanded an apology from Spirit Airlines.