#FlyingWhileMuslim: Prominent activist arrested onboard American Airlines flight

#FlyingWhileMuslim: Prominent activist arrested onboard American Airlines flight
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh says she was singled out after being removed from a flight and arrested over a dispute with a 'white male passenger'.
3 min read
16 November, 2020
The popular media personality shared her story online [Instagram/Amani]
A prominent Muslim activist and founder of popular platform Muslim Girl was arrested and removed from an American Airlines flight after a dispute with a white male passenger, in the latest #FlyingWhileMuslim incident.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh reported the incident live across her social media platforms where she boasts thousands of followers.

"I had the craziest experience in TSA this morning. An entitled white man behind me insisted on cutting me in line because I was 'still taking my shoes off'," Al-Khatahtbeh posted on Twitter prior to her flight Charlotte, North Carolina-bound flight.

"When I said he could wait like everyone else, he started going off about how he's 'pre check' and 'first class'," she added.

Moments later, Al-Khatahtbeh described an escalation in the incident. 

"Guys he made a complaint about me and @AmericanAir is attempting to remove me from the flight," she tweeted, before posting a 15-minute video online showing the moment in which a police officer confirms she is under arrest.

"Literally they called the cops on me," she said in the video. 

"This man in first class made a complaint about me because he cut me in line at TSA and now they literally have police coming to escort me off this flight right now, for no reason, literally taking this man's word over mine.

"He made me feel uncomfortable, this man sitting in first class. I'm a veiled Muslim woman on this flight and they're taking his word for it," she said, confirming the man involved in the incident was not removed from the flight.

The incident was confirmed by a statement from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which said the activist had been taken into custody and charged with delay of transportation and trespass.

"This morning, the port authority police department received a request from American Airlines personnel at Newark Liberty international airport, who indicated the airline had directed a passenger to deplane from a flight, and that police assistance was needed," the statement said.

"Police responded, and briefly took the individual into custody; she has been released. The port authority’s independent inspector general has begun an investigation."

Meanwhile, American Airlines said it was concerned.

"We are aware of an incident that took place during boarding of flight 2029 at Newark Liberty international airport. We are concerned by these allegations and our team is working to understand what occurred."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations slammed the incident as disturbing.

"The airline must immediately explain why it singled out Amani by contacting the police and ejecting her from a flight based on the word of a man who had allegedly harassed her," Nihad Awad, national executive director of CAIR said.

Read also: Comment: Navigating Arab identity in America's racial landscape

Selaedin Maksut, Cair-New Jersey executive director said: "Law enforcement must immediately release Amani from custody and conduct a full and transparent investigation into what happened.

"Any investigation must look into the conduct of the unidentified man who allegedly sparked this disturbing incident."

Muslim passengers have routinely complained of Islamophobia while travelling across the globe, with many reporting incidents of discrimination by both staff members and passengers onboard flights.

Earlier this year, controversial Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary sparked controversy after suggesting terrorists are generally Muslim men.

Muslim men should be profiled at airports as terrorists will "generally be of a Muslim persuasion", Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said in a shocking interview.

"Who are the bombers?" the budget airline's controversial chief executive said while discussing airport security in the interview with the Times newspaper. 

"They are going to be single males travelling on their own... If you are travelling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is zero."

"You can't say stuff, because it's racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion. Thirty years ago it was the Irish."

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