Yesterday, a pilot for a Delta Airlines feeder flight in Memphis threw two Muslim clerics off his plane saying that some passengers “might” be uncomfortable with them aboard. Their crime? They wore “Arab garb.” That’s the sole criteria used by this pilot to determine it was too dangerous to fly with them:
Two Muslim religious leaders say they were removed from a plane in Memphis on Friday and were told the pilot refused to fly with them aboard. One of the imams, Masudur Rahman, said they had cleared security but were asked to leave their Delta Connection flight to Charlotte, N.C. A Transportation Security Administration spokesman confirmed the incident and said it was not initiated by that agency. Delta Air Lines said the flight was operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which said the inicident is being investigatd. Mr. Rahman said they were told that the pilot refused to accept them because some passengers could be uncomfortable. Mr. Rahman said that he was wearing traditional Indian clothing and that his companion, Mohamed Zaghloul of the Islamic Association of Greater Memphis, wore Arab garb.
I understand a pilot has complete discretion to decide who flies with him and doesn’t have to explain his reasons. But an airline shouldn’t have to explain firing this dude either. And if they don’t I think a boycott against Delta Airlines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines is in order. Against Delta till it cancels its contract with Atlantic Southeast and against the latter for employing this Neanderthal.
If anyone can get me the e mail address for Delta’s and Atlantic Southeast’s CEOs I’d be happy to post them here. Thanks to the reader who researched info about Atlantic Southeast:
Brad Holt, President and Chief Operating Officer
Atlantic Southeast Airlines
990 Toffie Terrace
Atlanta, GA 30354-1363
Corporate Fax: 404-856-1203
Customer Relations: 404-856-1433
Customer Relations Fax: 404-856-1403
I wish I could say this is the first instance of being guilty of flying while Arab, but alas it isn’t.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.