Muslim Air Passenger Demands More than An Apology

By: AP
By: AP

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A Muslim woman said Wednesday that she wants a Southwest Airlines crew disciplined for removing her from a flight for wearing a headscarf.
Irum Abbasi, 31, told reporters at a news conference outside San Diego's airport that she was forced off a San Jose-bound flight in San Diego on Sunday because a flight attendant found her to be suspicious.
Abbasi said she was told that a flight attendant overheard her say on her cell phone words to the effect of: "It's a go."
The mother of three, who is originally from Pakistan, told reporters that she said, "I've got to go," before hanging up because the flight was about to depart. She believes the flight attendant made the assumption about her comment because she was wearing an Islamic head scarf.
After patting down her head scarf and talking to her, Transportation Security Administration agents recognized the mistake and told her it was not necessary to inspect her purse or cell phone, Abbasi said.
But they refused to let her back on the plane, telling her the crew was uncomfortable with her on the flight, according to Abbasi. She was booked on the next flight.
"I was in tears," Abbasi said. "I was just crying. I have lived in the United States for 10 years. I am a U.S. citizen."
Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said the airline has apologized to Abbasi twice, including the day of the incident. The airline also gave her a voucher for another flight, he said.
Abbasi said she gave the voucher to someone else and at this point does not want to fly Southwest again. She said she wants a written apology and a guarantee that the crew will be disciplined.
Abbasi, who is originally from Pakistan, said the verbal apology "doesn't make me feel better. This time they said we weren't comfortable with the head scarf. Next time, they won't be comfortable with my accent or they won't be comfortable with my South Asian heritage."
Mainz said the airlines is looking into the matter but does not disclose internal actions.
"Southwest has a 40-year history of treating all of our customers with great respect and care," Mainz said. "We treat all our customers the same and we think all of our employees do a very good job of that."
Hanif Mohebi, director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said his group believes she was targeted because of her head scarf and wants to meet with the airline to ensure it does not happen again.
Abbasi attributed her removal to growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. and said that it was a direct result of the congressional hearing called by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Jen Location: Williamston on Mar 18, 2011 at 10:36 AM
    Spring, thank you for proving that you are nothing but an ignorant, idiot keyboard jockey just looking for some little bandwagon to jump on-whether the post was read properly or not. Maybe if you'd responded with something even resembling intelligent thought, I would consider opening up a debate, but you've proven definitively otherwise. For the rest of the class, my point was that none of us here in the States has clean hands (partly proven by the worthless garbage produced by your own idiot fingers, Spring), so we have no right to judge anyone else in the world. The shows I listed were examples of what ignorant Americans, obviously such as yourself, seem to consider important viewing. Nope, we don't feed our hungry, care for our poor, keep guns off the streets. Instead we fill our lives with vapid television, trying to pretend like we're better than everyone else when we are truly no less barbaric than anyone else and, in many cases, are even moreso. Next time, use your brain instead of your idiotic off the cuff BS and present an argument that maybe actually addresses the point, if you can manage to wrap your feeble brain around such!!! Crawl back under your rock now, Spring, and please don't come out again.
  • by RT Location: Lansing on Mar 18, 2011 at 08:29 AM
    Sorry lady...YOU did EVERYTHING WRONG. Yep, you were profiled and as far as I'm concerned GOOD!!!! Ooops, I guess the fact that a don't want a plane hijacked, blown up, or flown into a building makes me an "extremist". Guess what?..I AM VERY extreme when it comes to not being killed. Ben, I think you're the one who's the idiot and as far as Jen's comments are concerned, I'm sure you'd have no quarrel at all with YOUR child (or other loved one) sitting next to a mohammed attah (capitalization purposely withheld from contempt)on their next flight. One final thing Jen, My hands are indeed "clean"...and they will NEVER have blood on them for being afraid to profile and target those who seek to kill me and my countrymen simply for being Americans.
  • by Spring Location: In East Lansing on Mar 18, 2011 at 05:37 AM
    Jen, you're absolutely right! There are 1000s of people killed every year going unreported by the cast of Jersey Shore alone not to mention the few hundred by the Real Housewives! Good Call! :)
    • reply
      by Jen on Mar 18, 2011 at 11:53 AM in reply to Spring
      Spring, you really do need to learn how to read. I'm still utterly appalled at your utter ridiculousness. Can you actually, safely, walk and breathe at the same time?? I'm a bit doubtful....and worried. You are a total embarrassment to yourself and anyone who admits to knowing you.
  • by Jen Location: Williamston on Mar 17, 2011 at 12:18 PM
    Nice hateful attitudes towards a whole culture because an unfortunate many of them have chosen to terrorize the world. If you only knew what the rest of the world says about "despicable, shallow Americans". We're such a proud nation and so deserving of passing ill judgment on others when we forcefully invade other countries based on outright lies, when our politicians are regularly reported for being unfaithful and even criminal, our values well displayed within such shows as "Jersey Shore", "Real Housewives of _______", "Outrageous Kid Parties", "Toddlers and Tiaras", and I could go on and on and on, but hey what do I know, right? You people make me sick. Her rights are violated and you blame HER for it. An excerpt of a favorite Bob Marley quote of mine: "..before you start pointing fingers, make sure YOUR hands are clean." 'Nuff said.
  • by Kelly Location: Lansing on Mar 17, 2011 at 09:35 AM
    If she doesn't like it, maybe she could explain to her fellow Muslims that the fact they keep trying to kill us has caused her to be inconvenienced. After all, we're all inconvenienced now at airports thanks to Muslims.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 16, 2011 at 09:19 PM
    HEY, In lieu of 9-11 I guess ya just dont get on a plane, get on your cell phone, while wearing a headscarf..DONT you get it Lady..PEOPLE are scared , and have every right to be. How many women have blown themselves up calling themselves suicide bombers. Sorry but we have a right to be cautious! Like it or not...It's how it is NOW A DAYS!
  • by Ben Location: Lansing on Mar 16, 2011 at 08:58 PM
    Zach, you're an idiot. Plain and simple.
  • by Mike Location: Laning, MI on Mar 16, 2011 at 04:03 PM
    She is yet another victim of Muslim extremism and should speak out against the radical movements which have tarnished her reputation. If Muslim terrorists did not exist, Muslims or those who appear Muslim would not even be on the radar. The blame for situations like this is completely on the shoulders of Muslim extremists and those in their own community who don't speak out against them.
  • by Zach on Mar 16, 2011 at 02:43 PM
    Its war, don't like it drive a car. Your rights don't outweigh the rights of all the other living passengers on that flight. You don't like being profiled? Leave we don't want you here!
WILX 500 American Road Lansing, MI 48911 517-393-0110
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 118122334 -
Gray Television, Inc.