Americans Are Being Thrown Off Planes For Appearing Muslim

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

Of course it was hardly reported in America’s mainstream media, but on Friday last, Pope Francis informed the press that he refuses to label Islam a violent religion, or its adherents as radical. The Holy Father is aligned with decent human beings everywhere, including President Barack Obama, who reject the idea that Muslims are inherently violent as part of their religious belief. In fact, Republicans have railed against the President for not replacing the word “terrorist” with the word Muslim, and it informs a continued portrayal that is adversely affecting innocent practitioners of Islam.

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It is a shame that the Pope’s, or the President’s, sentiment is not shared by no small number of Americans and it is not all down to Donald Trump. Although Trump targets Muslims as terrorist monsters regularly, he is simply tapping into the decade-long Republican-created, and cowardly, hatred driving discrimination against Muslim adherents who also happen to be American citizens.

This week, two Americans anxious to return home from Europe to see their three young children experienced that discrimination after celebrating their 10-year wedding anniversary with a trip to the “the cities of romance and love“: London and Paris. The couple boarded a Delta Airlines jet bound for Cincinnati when a flight crew member had them kicked off the passenger jet.

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The crew member “felt uncomfortable” because the woman wore a headscarf and thought the man murmured something like “Allah.” Allah is the Arabic word for the god of the Christian bible. As an aside, the crew member never felt uncomfortable with, or ejected, any one of the several passengers “crossing themselves” after praying to their Catholic Christian god for a safe and uneventful flight home to America.

The Cincinnati branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement announcing that they were sending a letter of complaint to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. The attorney representing the American couple, and filed the complaint on their behalf, Sana Hassan wrote that Delta Airlines violated federal law when it discriminated against Nazia and Faisal Ali and humiliated the American citizens.

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.”

According to Karen Dabdoub, the executive director of CAIR-Cincinnati, nationally her organization sees spikes in anti-Muslim behavior during election season; Republicans have made sure that this year will be record-breaking. Ms. Dabdoub said,

There are some politicians who will try to climb that ladder of success on the backs of American-Muslims. Of course, we’re not alone. These types of incidents are happening all across the country all too frequently. It is another symptom of the anti-Muslim behavior we see during the election season.” As most Americans are likely aware, this election season has seen a “slight” uptick in Republican demonization and anti-Muslim rhetoric from more than the likes of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

After the CAIR-Cincinnati press conference, Delta Airlines released its second statement about a flight crew unilaterally ejecting paying customers based on religion. The Delta statement read:

Delta 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. Delta continues its investigation into this matter and will issue a full refund of these customers’ airfare.”

The Ali couple’s experience with U.S. carrier Delta is just one of many incidents where airlines eject passengers for “threatening” flight crew members because they “appear Muslim.” For example, on Wednesday two South Asian Muslim women were kicked off a passenger jet after one of the flight attendants complained of feeling “threatened.” There must be an unknown disorder exclusive to American-based flight attendants that has them so terrified of women wearing headscarves.

Another instance occurred in early April of 2015 when the host of The Young Turks, a Muslim-raised American, Cenk Uygur was able to live-stream his experience of being ejected from an American Airlines commercial passenger jet.

In December 2015, three Muslim men, and one Sikh man, were booted off a plane because they looked a little “too Muslim” to the pilot and a flight attendant. The men, all American citizens from New York, are suing American Airlines for millions of dollars after being ejected from the Toronto to New York flight. The pilot said he was “uneasy” allowing the four U.S. citizens to return home in an airliner he was piloting.

Also in December 2015, an American Airlines flight attendant on a domestic flight from North Carolina to Detroit publicly “taunted” a Muslim man and eventually had him tossed off the plane. The attendant three times humiliated Mohamed Ahmed Radwan within seconds of him taking his designated seat. Using the passenger jet’s public address system, the flight attendant loudly announced:

Mohamed Ahmed, Seat 25-A: I will be watching you.” Within a minute the flight attendant again repeated the announcement stating: “Mohamed Ahmed, that is a very long name, Seat 25-A, I will be watching you.” Just to make sure the man was thoroughly humiliated, the attendant took a third shot at Mr. Radwan over the P.A. and in a more aggressive tone announced, “25-A: you will be watched.” After being summoned to the front of the plane for some flight attendant “interrogation,” Mr. Radwan was ejected because the flight attendant was “uncomfortable” with him being allowed on the plane.

These atrocities are not isolated incidents, and are a growing pattern employed by American nativists supporting Donald Trump. Like most everything about Trump’s bigoted followers, these airline employees are treating Muslims like criminals for speaking in Arabic, praying for a safe flight, wearing a headscarf, or just “appearing too Muslim.”

The telling part of these abominable experiences is that there are federal laws protecting airline passengers, and all Americans, against discrimination. It is frightening that they are laws that no small number of Americans supporting Republicans and especially Donald Trump want abolished immediately, particularly laws protecting any American citizen that is not a white Christian. It does not portend well for anyone that United States’ airline employees feel very comfortable profiling Muslims and throwing them off airplanes when it is against the law; imagine what kind of special Hell awaits Americans when those laws are eliminated according to the demands of Donald Trump and the Republican National Convention platform.