Delta Under Fire After Muslim Couple Removed from International Flight
Photo courtesy of Delta
A Muslim couple from Ohio is speaking out after being removed from an international flight following complaints from a crew member.
Cincinnati.com reported Faisal and Nazia Ali were scheduled to fly from Paris to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on Delta Air Lines July 26 when a crew member allegedly complained to the flight's pilot about the couple's appearance.
The pilot subsequently contacted the ground crew.
"It was humiliating. We were treated like criminals," Nazia Ali said during a press conference at the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) Cincinnati area office Thursday. "I thought, 'We are American citizens. You can't do this to us.'"
The crew member allegedly told the pilot that Nazia was wearing a head scrarf and using a phone, while Faisal was sweating, according to Cincinnati.com. She also claimed Faisal was trying to hide his phone and that she heard the couple reference Allah, the Arabic word for God.
"We had been in our seats for 45 minutes," said Ali. "The ground agent said, 'Can you step out with me? We'd like to ask you a few questions.' So I said, 'Do you want us to get our things?' And he said, 'Yes, please grab all of your personal belongings. You're not going to be on this flight.'"
After being removed from the flight, the Alis were questioned by a French security official before being put up in a hotel near the airport for the night. Delta paid for their room.
The couple flew back to the U.S. the next day.
The CAIR announced it's filing a religious profiling complaint against Delta with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
At Thursday's press conference, CAIR-Cincinnati attorney Sana Hassan said "we call on the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a thorough examination into the prevailing practices of major American air carriers, including Delta Air Lines, and to develop policy guidelines on the objective factors that are to be considered when determining that a passenger may legally be removed from a flight."
Delta responded to the allegations in a statement Thursday, saying it "condemns discrimination toward our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or gender."
"As a global airline that brings hundreds of thousands of people together every day, Delta is deeply committed to treating all of our customers with respect," the carrier added. "Delta continues its investigation into this matter and will issue a full refund of these customers’ airfare."
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