On Wednesday, Dec. 21, two Muslim Americans were escorted off a Delta Air Lines flight in London after causing a disturbance for the other passengers.
The two men claim that the reason they were escorted out was that one of the men was speaking Arabic on the phone with his mother before the flight took off, which, according to them, was making the other passengers uncomfortable.
Adam Saleh, one of the men removed from the aircraft, is a YouTube personality who is notorious for uploading pranks. Some of his pranks include videos titled “I Smuggled Myself On A Plane to Another City and IT WORKED!!! (IN A SUITCASE),” which has since been debunked, and “COUNTING DOWN IN ARABIC ON A PLANE EXPERIMENT.” The other man removed was Slim Albaher, a close friend of Saleh.
Delta Air Lines responded to the claim by saying that their removal had nothing to do with the language they spoke, nor the color of their skin, but was due to provocative behavior, including shouting. Delta plans to conduct a thorough investigation
After compiling reports from the two men removed from the flight, the other passengers and the flight crew, it is difficult to determine exactly what happened. Some people even believe that the entire debacle was staged. According to other passengers, the two men were instigating others and refused to stop yelling when they were asked to stop.
This event led to #BoycottDelta as a trending topic on Twitter, with people promising to stop flying through the airline because of its alleged discrimination against Arabic people.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement regarding the issue. It read, “CAIR is concerned about any allegation that a passenger has been removed from a flight for speaking Arabic. Racial and religious profiling of Muslims, and those perceived to be Muslim, is a real and continuing problem. We don’t yet know whether this case fits that troubling pattern, and are currently trying to determine the facts based on input from all parties involved in the incident.”
Based off of Saleh’s notoriety for inappropriate pranks, it seems clear that this may have been another prank gone wrong. The escorting of these two men off the plane was justified, especially considering how the situation escalated.
While this certainly is something that should be investigated by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, this was not an issue on race or religion, but an issue of people not understanding appropriate, respectable behavior for an airplane.