Chicago, Aug 5: A Pakistani-American couple has claimed that they were removed from a US-bound flight as an on board crew member felt "uncomfortable" after noticing that they were "sweating", saying "Allah" and texting.
Nazia and Faisal Ali have accused Delta Air Lines of Islamophobia for throwing them off their flight from Paris to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Nazia, 34, had removed her sneakers, finished sending a text message to her parents and was putting on headphones and settling into her seat for the nine-hour flight from Paris to Cincinnati when a Delta Air Lines crew member approached her and husband, Faisal.
A flight crew member had complained to the pilot that she was uncomfortable with the Muslim couple, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
The woman was wearing a head scarf and using a phone, and the man was sweating, she allegedly told the pilot. The flight attendant also claimed that Faisal tried to hide his cell phone and that she had heard the couple use the word 'Allah'.
The pilot contacted the ground crew and would not take off until couple was removed. "We had been in our seats for 45 minutes," Nazia said yesterday in the Cincinnati area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"The ground agent said, 'Can you step out with me? We'd like to ask you a few questions.' So I said, 'Do you want us to get our things?' And he said, 'Yes, please grab all of your personal belongings. You're not going to be on this flight'," Nazia said recounting the July 26 incident.
They were interrogated by a French police officer about their stay in Paris -- the couple had been enjoying a brief holiday in the capital city for their 10th wedding anniversary, media reports said.
After the interrogation, the officer said he had no problem with them and there was nothing else he could ask the couple. In the wake of the couple's removal from the flight, the Muslim advocacy group has filed a religious profiling complaint against Delta Air Lines to the US Department of Transportation.
"We call on the US Department of Transportation to conduct a thorough examination into the prevailing practices of major American air carriers, including Delta Air Lines, and to develop policy guidelines on the objective factors that are to be considered when determining that a passenger may legally be removed from a flight," CAIR-Cincinnati attorney Sana Hassan said.
The Delta Airlines, in a statement, said, "Delta condemns discrimination toward our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or gender." "As a global airline that brings hundreds of thousands of people together every day, Delta is deeply committed to treating all of our customers with respect. Delta continues its investigation into this matter and will issue a full refund of these customers' airfare," it said.