Seattle Interfaith Leaders to Seek Probe of Imam’s Forced Removal from Delta Flight

March 31, 2014


On Tuesday, April 1, the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA), along with a group of pastors, rabbis, imams, and labor leaders, will hold a news conference to ask Delta Air Lines and the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate the apparently bias-motivated removal earlier this month of a Seattle-area imam (Muslim religious leader) from a flight by Delta employees.

The imam, who is a Delta Platinum Elite member, was forced to disembark his flight and take another flight. He was reportedly informed by the Delta employee who escorted him off the plane that this was being done because a crew member judged “the way you used the restroom” to be “doubtful.”

“The Department of Transportation must investigate this shocking incident to hold Delta Air Lines accountable for discriminating against a respected religious leader,” said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari. “Not all passengers who go to the bathroom get kicked off their flight, so Delta’s discriminatory act was due solely to the imam’s perceived racial, ethnic and religious affiliation.”

Bukhari noted that there have been a number of similar incidents nationwide in which Muslim leaders and community members have been forcibly removed from airplanes after boarding due to their language, religious attire or appearance.

Report shows racial profiling pervasive across America

On Oct. 7, OneAmerica, along with Rights Working Group, released a report, “Faces of Racial Profiling: A Report from Communities Across America.” The report demonstrated that there is a need to address racial, ethnic, religious, and national origin profiling.

The report featured testimonies from the six of Face the Truth hearings held by OneAmerica and the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington (CAIR-WA).

“Research shows racial profiling hasn’t kept Americans any safer,” said CAIR-WA Youth Civil Rights Coordinator Jennifer Gist. “If the goal is to strengthen national security, we should focus on using intelligence more effectively and look out for suspicious behavior. Profiling individuals on the basis of their skin color or religious expression is counterproductive to national security.”