NEWS

United Airlines Is Being Boycotted After 'Islamophobic' Treatment Of Muslim University Chaplain Tahera Ahmad

30/05/2015 19:14 | Updated 30 May 2015

United Airlines is being boycotted by people who were appalled after a woman was reduced to tears by an alleged 'Islamophobic' incident on a flight.

Tahera Ahmad, a Muslim US university chaplain, says that a United Airlines flight attendant refused to give her a drink in an unopened can in case she used it "as a weapon".

tahera ahmad

Ahmad told her story in a Facebook post from the air

Ahmad, who is Director of Interfaith Engagement and Associate Chaplain at Northwestern University in Illinois, claimed she was on a flight and asked a flight attendant for an unopened can of Coca-Cola.

Her request was refused, she says, because the attendant claimed Ahmad - who wears a Hijab in her Facebook profile picture - may have used it "as a weapon on the plane."

Opening drinks cans before serving them is common practice for staff on many airlines, yet, Ahmad said in a Facebook post, the attendant then immediately proceeded to hand the male passenger sitting next to her an unopened can of beer.

I am sitting on a United airlines flight in the air 30,000ft above and I am in tears of humiliation from discrimination....

Click 'see more' to read the full account

When Ahmad challenged the flight attendant on why the man next to her was apparently able to have an unopened can without being a security threat, the attendant said she was "unauthorized [sic] to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a weapon on the plane".

The attendant then "quickly grabbed" the man's can of beer and opened it, according to Ahmad.

"She was clearly discriminating against me," Ahmad wrote in an emotional Facebook post from the plane, before adding that she had expected other passengers around her to come to her defence, but none did and one man shouted at her "You Moslem [sic], you need to shut the f** up."

Ahmad claimed she couldn't help but cry because she thought "people would defend me and say something" and could "feel the hate" in the voice of the passenger who yelled at her.

She added the hashtag ‪#‎IslamophobiaISREAL‬ to her Facebook account of the experience.

The hashtag #UnitedForTahera soon spread on Twitter, as supporters pledged not to use United Airlines until it apologised for what what called a display of "blind, idiotic hatred."

Ahmad posted an update after the flight at 6.30pm UK time, saying that both the flight attendant and the pilot on the plane had apologised, with the attendant saying that her behaviour was "utterly rude".

The pilot of the flight had helped her to file a complaint, she said, although the airline itself had still not communicated with her directly.

But United Airlines said in a statement that it was "reaching out to her".

It said: "United is a company that strongly supports diversity and inclusion, and we and our partners do not discriminate against our employees or customers. We are reaching out directly to Ms. Ahmad to get a better understanding of what occurred during the flight.

"We are also discussing the matter that Ms. Ahmad describes with Shuttle America, our regional partner that operated the flight. We look forward to speaking with Ms. Ahmad and hope to have the opportunity to welcome her back."

Related on HuffPost:

24 Reasons To Challenge Islamophobia
Suggest a correction
883 Comments

CONVERSATIONS