Muslim woman removed from flight after man says he feels ‘uncomfortable’

Passenger says she was arrested because of the complaint

Helen Coffey
Monday 16 November 2020 10:38 GMT
Muslim woman removed from US flight after passenger complained he ‘felt uncomfortable’
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A Muslim woman was reportedly removed from an American Airlines flight after a white male passenger said he didn’t “feel comfortable” with her being on the plane.

Amani al-Khatahtbeh, founder of the Muslim Girl website and the first Muslim woman to run for Congress in New Jersey, was due to fly from Newark to Charlotte, North Carolina, on 14 November.

She alleges that a man cut in front of her in the security queue, and that she challenged his behaviour.

“I had the craziest experience in TSA this morning,” she tweeted.  

“An entitled white man behind me insisted on cutting me in line because I was ‘still taking my shoes off.’

“When I said he could wait like everyone else, he started going off about how he’s ‘pre check’ and ‘first class’”.

Ms al-Khatahtbeh claimed that he put his luggage in front of hers and skipped the queue to go through the metal detector before her.

“Y’all know if I, a VEILED MUSLIM WOMAN, had the audacity to throw a temper tantrum and run through TSA security, I would have gotten BODIED,” she said. “I would have been detained, missed my flight, possibly gotten charged, etc.”

Ms al-Khatahtbeh added that, rather than admonishing the man, TSA agents told her to “cut it out”.

It is unclear what happened between the pair between security and boarding the flight, but once in the cabin, Ms al-Khatahtbeh was asked to leave.

Video shared on social media shows someone from airport security telling her she is being removed from the flight because a passenger “doesn’t feel comfortable” with her being on the aircraft.

“I do not feel comfortable with that passenger being here,” Ms al-Khatahtbeh responds. “I would like that passenger removed.”

She adds, “Or is it because he’s first-class that he’s not being removed?”, and questions why the man’s word is being believed over her own.

Another passenger called Jake separately tweeted about the incident, writing: “Had to get off my flight because a man asked a Muslim woman to get off the plane. @AmericanAir employees followed his request and gave the woman no explanation.”

According to the New Jersey Herald, Ms al-Khatahtbeh was taken into custody by the Port Authority before being released. A spokesperson said the independent inspector general had opened an investigation into the incident.

“Initial witness accounts indicate the conflict began during TSA screening,” an American Airlines spokesperson told The Hill. “Both PreCheck and non-PreCheck screening were consolidated into one open lane.  

“Our understanding is that Ms al-Khatahtbeh believed the other passenger, who is enrolled in PreCheck, was getting favourable treatment because he was allowed to proceed through security while she was removing her shoes.

”This led to a verbal altercation that continued through the terminal and on the plane where Ms al-Khatahtbeh confronted the passenger and began filming him before taking her seat.“

The national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihad Awad, said in a statement: “The airline must immediately explain why it singled out Amani by contacting the police and ejecting her from a flight based on the word of a man who had allegedly harassed her.”  

The Independent has contacted AA for further comment.

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