Racial profiling? American Airlines flight cancelled because of Muslim passengers

Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh, right, and Issam Abdallah, second from left, who are both Muslim, say they were profiled and discriminated against during a recent American Airlines flight in Alabama. (The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Updated 21 September 2019

Racial profiling? American Airlines flight cancelled because of Muslim passengers

DALLAS: Two Muslim men from Texas say American Airlines profiled them and canceled their flight after crew members said they “didn’t feel comfortable” flying with the pair.
Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh and Issam Abdallah said they filed a complaint with the US Department of Transportation against the Fort Worth-based airline, asking the federal agency to investigate the incident. The men say American Airlines discriminated against them Saturday for appearing Muslim and Middle Eastern during a flight from Birmingham, Alabama, that was headed to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
The pair says flight attendants reported them because a crew member noticed Abdallah flush the toilet two times while in the airplane restroom, according to a letter the men’s attorney sent to the DOT. The men also waved to each other on the plane.
“It was the most humiliating day of my life,” said Abdallah, who spoke Thursday at the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The passengers were put on a later flight. Alkhawaldeh and Abdallah were questioned and searched by the FBI and the Transportation Security Administration before they were cleared to board.
“I have taken hundreds of flights — and to be treated with such disrespect, suspicion, to be questioned in public and to be singled out and followed around in front of other airport customers — I am really worried as to what my next flying experience will be,” said Alkhawaldeh, adding that he flies with American often and is an AAdvantage Executive Platinum member, the company’s highest frequent flier ranking.
American Airlines spokeswoman LaKesha Brown said the flight was canceled as a result of “concerns raised by a crew member and a passenger.”
“American and all of its regional partners have an obligation to take safety and security concerns raised by crew members and passengers seriously,” Brown said in a statement. She added that American is reviewing the incident and has reached out to the men “to better understand their experience.”
Saturday’s flight was operated by independently owned Mesa Airlines, which handles some flights for American Airlines.
“The safety and security of our customers is our top priority, and we are conducting a thorough investigation of this matter,” Mesa spokesman Jack Heller said Thursday.
American Airlines has been criticized before over its treatment of passengers who are people of color.
The NAACP issued a travel advisory in October 2017 for American Airlines after a string of incidents in which black passengers said they were discriminated against on flights.
In June, a Miami doctor said he was removed from an American flight for his Arab and Muslim appearance and for using a phone during takeoff. He is now suing the airline in federal court. That same month, a black doctor and founder of a telemedicine service said an American Airlines crew called her romper inappropriate and told her to cover up or risk being kicked off her flight back into the US from vacation in Jamaica.
On Thursday, Omar Suleiman, founder of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research in Dallas, said the profiling of Muslims is increasing, particularly at airports and on planes.
“Airports are a scary place for Muslims. Especially with the rhetoric of the president (Donald Trump),” Suleiman said.
“Most of the time people do not step forward to talk about their experiences,” he added. “Instead of just addressing this issue in isolation, American Airlines could use this opportunity to create protocols that stops this from happening all the time.”


India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

Updated 15 October 2019

India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

  • Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate
  • Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones

SRINAGAR: Text messaging services were blocked in Indian Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said Tuesday.
Separately Indian officials said that a 24-year-old woman died in the latest exchange of artillery fire with Pakistan over their de-facto border dividing the blood-soaked Himalayan region.
Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.
Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones on Monday, following a 72-day blackout in the restive northern territory imposed after New Delhi scrapped the region's semi-autonomous status.
The seven million-plus people of the Kashmir Valley — the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule — are still cut off from the Internet, however.
Authorities said SMS services were cut again on Monday night following the attack on the driver of a truck carrying apples in Shopian.
Residents said two masked gunmen told the driver to use his truck to block the road, but it skidded and got stuck.
“The gunmen then fired at the truck and set it on fire,” a witness told AFP.
Apples are a sensitive issue in Kashmir, which exports vast quantities of the fruit to markets across India.
Many orchard owners say they are refusing to harvest this year to protest against the government’s move to scrap Kashmir’s autonomy.
Indian authorities say that militants — backed by arch-rival Pakistan — have been intimidating farmers and businessmen.
The latest death from Pakistani artillery fire over the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir brings the number of fatalities on the Indian side to three in the past four days, the Press Trust of India reported.
Two Indian soldiers were killed in two separate incidents on Friday and Sunday, PTI said. It was unclear if there were any fatalities from Indian fire on the Pakistani side.
Also on Tuesday, police arrested 13 women activists in Srinagar after they staged a protest calling for civil liberties and the release of detainees.
The women, wearing black armbands, were arrested for “breaching the peace” and for a contravening a ban in place since early August on public gatherings of more than four people, police said.
They included the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, one of several hundred local politicians, lawyers and others in custody since early August, mostly without charge.
Abdullah, 81, was formally arrested in mid-September under the highly contentious Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows someone to be held for up to two years without charge, and which has been used widely in Kashmir in recent years.
Rebels have been fighting for three decades some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or to join Pakistan which also controls part of the region and, like India, claims it in full.