American Airlines passenger 'told to hide Palestine sweater'
This week, a man allegedly found himself in the odd position of being asked to hide his shirt on a flight or disembark. What was it about the sweater that had caused offence? It had the word 'Palestine'.
The incident reportedly took place on Wednesday on an American Airlines flight from New York to Phoenix, when a flight attendant spotted a man wearing a sweater with a colourful graphic of a sunset and pottery with "Palestine" written at the bottom, according to an X post by a cousin of the passenger.
The shirt didn't include an overtly political or offensive statement or image. However, many supporters of Israel claim that the word 'Palestine' is in itself a hostile statement, particularly amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Arab civil rights advocates are decrying the order as racist and are asking for an apology from the airline and for it to take steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.
My younger cousin called me extremely emotional as he was told to take off his Palestine 🇵🇸 shirt or he’d be removed by authorities from his flight, SHAME on you @AmericanAir . pic.twitter.com/C8mQbgEfmw— s (@katchmeifyakan) November 29, 2023
""We condemn this action by American Airlines and call for the airline to issue a formal apology to the affected passenger," said the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in a public statement.
"Furthermore, we urge American Airlines to engage in a direct dialogue with the ADC to discuss this incident and develop steps to prevent such discriminatory practices in the future. Education and awareness are key to ensuring that all passengers, regardless of their national, cultural, or political affiliations, are treated with respect and dignity."
The ADC says that it is unfair to compel someone to hide their identity, arguing that it shows a disregard for basic rights and their freedom to express their cultural identities.
"The choice presented to the passenger—conceal their identity or face potential removal—reflects a distressing disregard for the fundamental rights of individuals to express their cultural and national identities," their statement reads.
This incident is emblematic of a larger pattern of discrimination that Palestinians and their supporters often face, highlighting a concerning trend of silencing and marginalizing their voices."
The New Arab contacted American Airlines for comment, but didn't immediately hear back.