Two muslim men accuse Alaska Airlines of kicking them off flight for texting in Arabic
Two men say their civil rights were violated by Alaska Airlines.
Two Muslim men have accused Alaska Airlines of violating their civil rights after they were kicked off a flight for texting in Arabic.
According to reports, a passenger sat nearby to the two men noticed the Arabic text messages on the phone and reported them to a flight attendant for being suspicious.
Despite neither the flight attendant nor the complaining passenger knowing Arabic, the two men were told to collect their bags from the overhead locker and leave the aircraft.
The pair were questioned by the FBI and had their phones analysed once removed from the plane.
A police report of the incident said that an Alaska Airlines representative had later translated the texts into English and acknowledged that “there was no threat of any kind”.
“Imagine being innocent, and then suddenly you became accused of being criminal,” said Abobakkr in a video press conference organised by the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
CAIR provided this translation of the texts, which read in part, “Peace be upon you, Captain.”
After clearing the men to fly, the airline still prevented them from boarding their original flight. Instead, they were booked onto later one.
Abobakkr and Mohamad say Alaska Airlines still hasn’t apologised personally for the incident, despite almost a year having gone by.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the airline said “We’re sorry that two of our guests had such a distressing experience last February, when they were removed from their flight after a fellow passenger became concerned about the text messages his seatmate was sharing.
“Alaska Airlines strictly prohibits unlawful discrimination, and we take such complaints very seriously. Our greatest responsibility is to ensure that our flight operations are safe, and that was our goal on 17 February, as it is every day.
“We have launched an internal investigation of the incident to determine whether there were any missteps on our part, and are in contact with CAIR and the two guests.”