Republic Airways says there is no 'open-can rule' after Muslim denied soda

Published: June 2, 2015
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PHOTO: FIRSTLOOK/FACEBOOK

PHOTO: FIRSTLOOK/FACEBOOK

The parent company of a regional carrier, which operated a United Airlines flight embroiled in a discrimination scandal, has rebutted claims that there is ‘open can rule’ after a Muslim woman was denied an unopened can of soda on one of their flights.

On May 31, 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. The incident sparked furor on social media with many people saying they may boycott the airlines unless it apologises.

Muslim woman faced discrimination by flight attendant, passengers over unopened soda can

The United Airlines flight, from Chicago to Washington, DC, was operated by Shuttle America, which is owned by Republic Airways Holdings, which said in a statement Monday that the company doesn’t enforce rules about serving unopened cans.The statement said that the crew apologised to Ahmed after the flight for ‘not delivering the service our customers expect,’ and termed the whole incident as a ‘misunderstanding’ which was also the response by United Airlines.

“There is no policy difference in serving alcoholic or non-alcoholic canned beverages to passengers. There is no differentiation between opened and unopened beverages, and there is no policy suggesting what may or may not be done with a container,” the Republic Airways statement read.

Despite the social media uproar, the director of communications for Republic Airways, Bob Birge celebrated the ‘strong track record and superior customer service’ of the flight attendant involved.

In an interview with NBC, Birge evaded commenting on whether the flight attendant would be penalised saying conducting an inquiry about what disciplinary measures to take ‘assumes the flight attendant did something that would warrant disciplinary action.’

Tahera Ahmad, 31, a NorthWestern University chaplain, was aboard a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Washington when she made the mistake of asking for an unopened can of soda. She was refused the request while the flight attendant offered an unopened can of beer to another passenger seated close by.

“We are unauthorised to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a weapon on the plane,” she recalled the flight attendant telling her. After she protested she heard a passenger yell “You Muslim, you need to shut the fuck up. You know you would use it as a weapon, so shut the fuck up. “

Tahera believes she was discriminated against because of her religion; which she claimed was not the first she had experienced. She said since 9/11 she has experienced discrimination many times. “I’ve been spat on, had my hijab pulled off, been detained for hours by the TSA and missed speaking engagements in front of hundreds of people. This is not about a can of soda; it’s about an environment which is encouraging people to be demeaning, bigoted and hurtful.”

Read:US Supreme Court rules for Muslim woman denied job due to hijab at Abercrombie & Fitch

Ahmad is Director of interfaith engagement at North Western University. She was also honored by the White House for her work for the betterment of the community as well as conducting interfaith relations workshops and cultural awareness initiatives for the US State Department.

The articles originally appeared on NBCNEWS and  FIRSTLOOK

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Rex Minor
    Jun 2, 2015 - 8:06PM

    The lady should know that Hijab has nothing to do with the religion of Islam or christianity though woman of both faiths wear hijabs at times because of their cultural and traditionsons.
    The passenger who shouted abuses at her was the culprit and not the attendent who did not serve her with the canned beaverages. She could have sighted the thug passenger to airport authorities upon arrival at the destination.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • STOP IT
    Jun 2, 2015 - 8:37PM

    For God Sakes !!!! Stop this nonsense
    Stop being so dramatic !!!!
    We have created this image, what kind of a reaction then you expect ?!!!
    Who did the brutal school attack in Peshawar?
    Who attacked the bus in Karachi ?
    In Pakistan every year there are hundred of attacks every year !!
    We the Muslims in the country having 96% of muslims do not feel safe ?
    THEN WHY THEY WOULD

    Stop creating the unnecessary hype !!!Recommend

  • To dear STOP IT
    Jun 2, 2015 - 8:50PM

    if you feel you deserve such discrimination then please don’t ever speak up when it happens to you or your loved ones . Just because it is happening daily and has become the norm for us Muslims doesn’t mean we have to take it lying down . What we need to STOP is your way of thinking that such incidences should be accepted as normal and that we should “get used to it” Recommend

  • Ivy
    Jun 2, 2015 - 8:54PM

    @STOP IT if you feel you deserve such discrimination then please don’t ever speak up when it happens to you or your loved ones . Just because it is happening daily and has become the norm for us Muslims doesn’t mean we have to take it lying down . What we need to STOP is your way of thinking that such incidences should be accepted as normal and that we should “get used to it” }Recommend

  • Assad
    Jun 2, 2015 - 9:53PM

    @Rex Minor:

    Sighted the thug for what? Arrest on charges of verbal abuse? How and when does that ever happen? Who can charge him for verbal abuse and infringe on his supposed “freedom of expression”? The issue is that her abuse was allowed to go on and nobody had the decency to stand up for her. This indicates a moral bias against Muslim citizens of the country who are NOT responsible for the crimes committed by some extremists in the name of their religion. Recommend

  • PeterPan
    Jun 3, 2015 - 3:38AM

    Stop It has raised some fair points but that does not mean that anyone has a right to discriminate against anyone on those bases. Bigotry and injustice should be discouraged and condemned wherever it happens.
    btw ET do you have any editorial policy about writing the “F word”? or it is ok if put in quotation?Recommend

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