Arab-American Family Says They Were Removed from Flight for Being Muslim

They were asked to leave a United Airlines flight last month

April 1, 2016, 1:52 PM

— -- An Arab-American family who was removed from an United Airlines flight last month believes they were the subject of discrimination. They are seeking "corrective action" through the advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley posted on her Facebook account on March 20 about an altercation between her family and an United Airlines flight crew on a Washington, D.C. bound flight from Chicago O’Hare.

The incident happened when Shebley, who wears an Islamic head scarf, or hijab, asked for an additional strap for the booster seat for one of her children, according to CAIR representative working with the family, Renner Larson. After discussion with a flight attendant about the strap, the family was asked to remove the booster seat, which they say they did.

A short time later, a CAIR statement said, the family was told to leave the plane because of safety concerns. They questioned whether it was a "discriminatory decision."

“They felt singled-out and helpless,” Larson told ABC News. “We are tired of more and more of these instances: of Muslims being taken off flights for flimsy reasons.”

The Chicago chapter of CAIR said they sent a letter to United Airlines which calls for a formal apology to the family, disciplinary measures for the crew involved and sensitivity training for employees.

United Airlines maintains the reason the family was asked to leave was safety concern over the child's seat.

“We reached out to the family following their flight on March 20 to discuss their concerns," a United Airlines representative said in a statement to ABC News. "They were originally scheduled to fly on SkyWest 5811, operating as United Express from Chicago O’Hare to Washington, D.C., but we re-booked them on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations."

"Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination,” the company added.

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