A Muslim passenger aboard a United Airlines flight claimed she broke down into tears after she allegedly faced ‘unjust discrimination’ from a flight attendant and fellow passenger over an unopened can of soda on Friday. The incident sparked furor on social media with many people saying they may boycott the airlines unless it apologises.
Tahera Ahmad, a chaplain at the Northwestern University, had requested some Diet Coke when the attendant asked if she would like a drink. She was served an unopened for an unopened can of the popular soda.
Concerned about hygiene, Ahmad requested an unopened can of the beverage. But her request was turned down by the attendant who told her they were ‘unauthorised’ to give unopened cans to any passenger because they could be ‘used as a weapon.’
Moments later, the attendant served an unopened beverage can to a man sitting a few seats ahead of Ahmad. Seeing this, she questioned the attendant and complained that she was being discriminated against.
“It’s so you don’t use it as a weapon,” Ahmad said the attendant repeated. But when the chaplain pointed out that the man had been served an unopened can, in violation of the airline’s policy, the attendant quickly moved to open the can.
Offended, Ahmad sought support from other passengers.But she did not get the response she was hoping for.
A man sitting across the aisle turned to her and yelled, “You Muslim, you need to shut the f*** up,” Ahmad claimed.
The man, in an enraging voice, said: “”Yes, you know you would use it as a weapon. So shut the f*** up,” Ahmad further claimed.
Ahmad used the in-flight internet to narrate the incident on her Facebook profile, saying it had reduced her to tears. “I felt the hate in his voice and his raging eyes.”
The post quickly went viral across social media. While her Facebook post seemed to have been removed late on Saturday, its screenshots continued to go viral. Supporters gathered under the hashtag #unitedfortahera.
Some United customers said that they will boycott the airline till it apologises to Ahmad and trains its crew better.
After the incident, Charles Hobart, a spokesperson for United Airlines, said that they had a policy of inclusion and supporting diversity.
“We and our partners do not discriminate against our employees or customers,” an official statement from the airlines said. “We are reaching out directly to Ms. Ahmad to get a better understanding of what occurred during the flight.”
“We are also discussing the matter that Ms. Ahmad describes with Shuttle America, our regional partner that operated the flight. We look forward to speaking with Ms. Ahmad and hope to have the opportunity to welcome her back.”
Ahmad, 31, is a frequent-flier with United, said on Saturday that she had not yet been contacted by the airline.
Reportedly, both the flight attendant and pilot later apologised to her for their conduct.
The incident comes armed bikers staged a protest against Islam outside a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona. Tensions grew when counter-protesters showed up at the venue to voice their support for the local Muslim community and police had to be deployed between them to prevent any untoward incident.
This article originally appeared on CNN