A Pakistani-American couple who accused Delta Airlines for singling them out because flight crew noticed them ‘sweating’ and saying ‘Allah’ have opened up about their ordeal for the first time.
Faisal Ali and Nazia Ali were waiting for about 45 minutes on a Delta Airlines flight in Paris to fly back to Cincinnati, Ohio when an employee asked them to exit the aircraft as he needed to ask them questions.”We asked if we should get our stuff and he said, ‘Yes, take all of your stuff as you won’t be on that flight’,” Nazia told The Independent.
“That was really alarming. I was scared because it looked like some random guy was taking pictures of our passports on his personal phone,” she said. The Delta employee explained that the pilot had decided to ask them to leave as one of the crew members had felt ‘uncomfortable’ in their presence, as the crew member had reportedly seen Faisal hide his phone as they walked by, and that he had been sweating and saying ‘Allah’.
After interrogating them about their stay in Paris, where the couple went to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, the officer said he had no problem with them and there was nothing else he could ask the couple. When Faisal asked what they had done wrong, the agent said, “You have done nothing wrong, unfortunately this is the way the world is right now. It is Delta’s word against yours.” They finally boarded the plane and Nazia said she still felt scared. “We now know that just because you’re on the flight doesn’t mean you won’t be asked to leave – until you’re airborne,” she said.
“We just went straight to the terminal and they booked us on the next flight home, so they know we didn’t do anything and we know that we didn’t do anything,” said Nazia. “I told my four-year-old that you’ll see me tomorrow, in another nine hours,” she said. “But that didn’t happen.”
Faisal explained that he had been texting his mother to let her know they had safely boarded the plane as she would be picking them up from Cincinnati airport. “I wanted to get on that plane so badly. I didn’t care about my privacy, I just wanted the captain to see my phone so he could see we were just texting our parents,” she said. He added he might have been sweating due to poor air circulation on the plane as it had been on the tarmac for about 45 minutes. Faisal and Nazia Ali are US citizens originally from Pakistan.
The Council of American-Islamic Relations has filed a complaint against the airline and said that the couple had been discriminated against.“By falsely construing their simple and normal actions into something scary and threatening, it is clear that Mr and Mrs Ali were being singled out due to their Muslim appearance and name,” wrote staff lawyer Sana Hassan.
Delta Airlines spokesperson Morgan Durrant responded, “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.”
This article originally appeared on Independent.