Two Muslim religious leaders say they were asked to leave Delta flight in Memphis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two Muslim religious leaders say they were asked to leave a commercial airliner after being cleared by security agents and boarded the plane for an 8:40 a.m. flight on Friday in Memphis. They were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard.

Masudur Rahman, who is also an adjunct instructor of Arabic at the University of Memphis, said by phone from the terminal at Memphis International Airport that he and another imam had already been allowed to board their Delta Connection flight to Charlotte, N.C., before they were asked to get off the plane.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jon Allen in Atlanta confirmed the incident and said it was not initiated by that agency.

Both passengers are Memphis-area residents. Rahman said he was dressed in traditional Indian clothing and his traveling companion was dressed in Arab garb, including traditional headgear.

Ibrahim Hooper, of the American-Islamic organization, said the group will follow up with the airline and with the TSA to help ensure such incidents do not continue to occur.

Hooper said airline officials at Memphis tried to resolve the situation, but the pilot refused.