A United Airlines pilot asked a Muslim family of five to leave the plane before it took off for Washington.
Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley, her husband and three young children were about to take off on a flight bound for Washington at a Chicago airport when the pilot asked them to get off the aircraft citing “security issues.”
The family was asked to leave the plane after they requested an additional strap for their youngest daughter's booster seat, according to Ahmed Rehab, executive director of Chicago's Council on American-Islamic Relations.
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The family was ordered to exit the plane for security reasons and no further explanation was given. When the mother and father asked the flight crew why they were being removed, they were told to walk out "peacefully," return to the gate and await further instructions, Rehab said.
United Airlines said in a statement that the family was removed "because of concerns about their child's safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations."
Two videos filmed by Shebley show the air stewardess and then the pilot asking the family to leave. Shebley asked the pilot whether it was a “discriminatory” decision. The pilot replied it was a “flight safety issue” but were not given any details.
Shebley wrote on Facebook: “Shame on you #unitedAirlines 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. My three kids are too young to have experienced this.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to United Airlines on the family’s behalf demanding disciplinary action against the staff involved.
“We are tired of Muslim-looking passengers being removed from flights for the flimsiest reasons, under a cryptic claim of ‘security’,” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said in a statement. “Security means securing passengers, not harassing and humiliating them and booting them off their flight for, of all things, actually asking for security.”
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Another Muslim woman and a Northwestern University chaplain, Tagera Ahmad, was denied a can of diet coke onboard a United Airlines flight in May as the flight attendant said she “may use it as a weapon”.
The airline apologised multiple times to Shebley’s family after they got off the plane and were rebooked on another flight.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, United Airlines said the family was rebooked “on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations” and said the airline has “zero tolerance for discrimination”.
This article originally appeared on Chicago Tribune
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