A Muslim woman of Somali descent was kicked off a plane after a flight attendant said she didn’t feel comfortable with her.
Hakima Abdulle was told to get off a Southwest Airlines plane at a Chicago airport after she asked a passenger next to her if she could move to the aisle seat. He agreed to her request, The Independent reported.
— Khaleej Times (@khaleejtimes) April 16, 2016
As a result, the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, called for an investigation into a possible “bias move” on behalf of the flight attendant. The woman was wearing a headscarf.
Abdulle was traveling alone to help a pregnant family member in Seattle, CAIR said.
After she swapped seats, a flight attendant informed her that they weren’t allowed to do that, which contradicts the airline’s open seating policy. Seats aren’t assigned.
Abdulle was rebooked onto another flight.
Police asked the flight attendant, who was not named, about the incident. She replied that she did “not feel comfortable” with the passenger. The attendant didn’t give a reason why she was removed.
Zainab Chaudry, who is the Maryland Outreach Manager at CAIR, told CBS Local: “It really does create alarm among Muslims.”
CAIR said that Southwest Airlines staff needs to undergo diversity training.
Abdulle’s husband Abukar told the station: “She was humiliated because of her religion and the way she dressed.”
“She was crying in front of everybody,” he said. “They ignored me,” Abukar added.
The couple’s lawyer, William Burgess, said it’s a violation of federal law to discriminate against passengers over their religion. Burgess said he’s gotten about six reports from Muslims in 2016.
Southwest, meanwhile, said that its “employees followed proper procedures,” and added: “We are not in the business of removing passengers without reason,” according to the Independent.
“Our goal is to get each one of our Customers to their final destination safely. We are responsible for the comfort of all passengers and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” the statement added.