Muslim family told to leave United Airlines flight for 'how they looked' demand apology

Other passengers said the family 'did nothing wrong'

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The Independent US

A Muslim family who were told to leave a passenger plane because of a "flight security issue" has asked for an apology from the airline.

Air crew on a United Airlines flight to Washington told the family, who were going on holiday, to leave the plane after the parents asked for an extra safety belt.

A video from inside the plane, as it prepared to take off from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, has been viewed more than two million times and shared more than 38,000 times on Facebook.

"Shame on you United Airlines for profiling my family and me for no reason other than how we look and kicking us off the plane for 'safety flight issues' on our flight to DC for the kids' spring break," said the mother. "My three kids are too young to have experienced this."

The family had brought a booster seat for their youngest daughter on board with the permission of United Airline staff in the airport, but was then told they could not use it, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Video shows Muslim family kicked off flight

In the video of the incident on March 20, a flight attendant asks the mother what the "problem" is. The mother replies: "I don't know. You tell us. They didn't tell us anything."

The flight attendant then replies: "We're going to ask you to step off the flight."

When asked why by the mother and father, the flight attendant is inaudible on the recording but the pilot then gets involved.

He cites a "safety of flight issue" to which the wife replies: "Is that a discriminatory decision?"

Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of Chicago's Council on American-Islamic Relations who are looking at the case, said other passengers reported that the family "did nothing wrong".

Mr Rehab said the family is requesting a formal apology from United Airlines, corrective action for employees and reimbursement for the new flight they had to book and accomodation changes they had to make.

United Airlines said in a formal statement: "We rebooked them on a later flight because of concerns about their child's safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations. 

"Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination."

United Airlines was previously criticised for Islamophobia after another flight attendant refused to give a Muslim passenger a fizzy drink can "in case it was used as a weapon".

In that incident, the airline said it would make sure staff received regular sensitivity training.

Evidence shows Islamophobia on the rise in the US, with Muslims regarded least favourably out of all religions in a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Centre.