A Muslim couple, Faisla Ali and his wife Nazi Ali, were thrown off a Delta Air Lines flight in Paris after a crew member noticed them uttering the name “Allah.” The couple feels that they were singled out and that this was an act of Islamophobia on the part of the airline.
The couple was intending to fly back home to Cincinnati from Paris when they were asked by a Delta Air Lines crew member to leave the aircraft as there were a few questions that he wanted to ask them. As they left the aircraft, Faisla and Nazi asked whether they should take their luggage along with them. They were met by an alarming response from the Crew member, who said, “Yes, take all of your stuff as you won’t be on that flight.”
As they disembarked, a French police officer was stationed at the gate to question them. Nazi said that she was scared because it felt as though a random person was just taking photographs of their passports with his mobile phone.
The officer interrogated them for an hour regarding the purpose of their stay in Paris. The couple informed him that they were on holiday in Paris to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary, and he said that there was no problem with that, and he had no further questions.
The Delta Air Lines crew member’s explanation for the incident was that the pilot had made the decision that the couple should leave the aircraft, as one of his crew members felt uncomfortable in their presence. The crew member stated that Faisla hid his phone as he walked by and that he was sweating and saying “Allah.”
Faisla insisted that he was merely texting his mother to let her know that they had boarded the plane and were about to leave Paris. She was going to pick them up at the airport in Cincinnati, and he just wanted to contact her before they left Paris. He said that he wanted to get back on the plane so badly so that he could prove to the Captain that he was merely sending a text message to a family member.
The couple mentioned that the aircraft had been on the tarmac for forty-five minutes and that the air circulation in the cabin was poor, which could have been the reason for sweating.
Following their interrogation, the Ali’s headed for the terminal to get booked onto the next flight home. The airline was aware that the couple was not guilty of any wrongdoing. The airline organized an overnight stay for them in the hotel. They had to wait an extra nine hours see their three young children who had to stay with their grandparents and were expecting them home.
The couple further interrogated by a U.S. customs agent at the airport the following day. After their long wait, they finally boarded the plane and waited for the aircraft to take off, knowing that once the aircraft was airborne, they could not be asked to leave the plane.
The Council of American-Islamic Relations filed a complaint against Delta Air Lines for discriminating against the Ali’s. The council’s lawyer, Sana Hassan said that, “By falsely construing their simple and normal actions into something scary and threatening.”
A spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, Morgan Durrant responded to the complaint by stating that the airline condemns any discrimination toward their clients, and as a global airline, they are committed to treating all their clients with the utmost of respect.
Delta Air Lines continues their investigation into the matter and is said to have issued the Ali’s with a full refund for their flight.