An American advocacy group has called for an investigation and issued several demands after a Muslim woman in Hijan was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight “without any credible explanation” last week.
Zainab Chaudry, an official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told reporters that Hakima Abdulle, a Baltimore resident, had boarded a Seattle-bound aircraft in Chicago when a flight attendant told her she would not be permitted to remain on board.
According to Baltimore Sun, Abdulle, who’s of Somilian origin, was then escorted out of the plane by the airport police.
She had to wait for several hours before catching the next flight.
According to Chaudry, Abdulle was travelling to Seattle to visit a pregnant niece and planning to help with the delivery.
The flight attendant and Southwest employees inside the terminal were unable to provide “any reasonable explanation” for their action.
Chaudry said, that Abdulle, who speaks little English, was reduced to tears and “suffered extreme distress and anxiety as a result of this experience.”
Abdulle told CAIR officials that she wanted to change her seat and the man agreed for the exchange. She was about to make the change when a flight attendant intervened, telling both they would not be allowed to move, according to Chaudry.
When Abudulle asked why she could not move even after the other passenger had agreed, the flight attendant told her she was being removed from the flight, CAIR said.
Southwest Airlines, which is increasingly becoming notorious for its racism, showed little remorse on its action.
An airlines spokeswoman, Brandy King, said that the flight attendant only followed the routine procedure even though they failed to explain what danger Abdulle had posed inside the aircraft.
Chaudry said Abdulle and her husband, Abukar Fidaw, seek no financial compensation, but she listed four demands – that Southwest begin a prompt investigation, apologize to Abdulle in person, reimburse her airfare and insure that its employees have appropriate diversity training.
This is not the first time the Southwest airlines’ action has been reflective of explicit racism. On 6 April, a UC Berkeley researcher was removed from a flight after a fellow passenger heard him speak Arabic on his phone. This caused global condemnation and outrage for the airliner.
As reported by the British newspaper Guardian, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a senior at the university, was removed from the Oakland-bound flight from Los Angeles International Airport on 6 April. Makhzoomi, 26, was born in Iraq, and his family fled the country in 2002 after his diplomat father was killed by Saddam Hussein’s regime.