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4 Feb, 2015

Delta Under Fire for Alleged Discriminatory Treatment of Arab Passengers

Washington, DC | www.adc.org | February 3, 2015 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is currently investigating an incident of discrimination against an Arab-American family on Delta Airlines.  ADC has received video footage of a Delta Airlines employee threatening to remove a Muslim family off the plane after they were victims of xenophobic harassment by another passenger.  ADC sent a letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson demanding that Delta Airlines immediately investigate the incident of in-flight harassment, as well as to express ADC’s concern regarding Delta’s procedures for responding to such incidents.

Click here to view a video of the incident.

ADC was contacted by the Arab-American family that was flying on a Delta flight on Monday evening. A woman on the flight turned to the mother, who wears an Islamic headscarf, and began exclaiming, “This is America!” while berating her and her four children. ADC Legal Director Abed Ayoub live tweeted the incident as it was unfolding, and that can be read here.

The harassment was exacerbated by an inappropriate response by a Delta agent. The Delta agent approached the mother, who was visibly shaken and crying as a result of the incident, and demanded to know, “What’s the problem!?” When her husband attempted to answer on his wife’s behalf, he was told to “stay out of this” and the Delta agent used her authority to scold him.  After listening to what the mother had to say, the Delta agent directed her to “get your kids and change seats.” When the mother made another attempt to explain to the agent what had occurred and requested that she and her family be able to stay in their seats, the Delta agent threatened, “You are at my wits’ end. You better be quiet before I kick you off of this plane!”

A video of the Delta agent’s treatment of the passenger can be viewed here.

The mother complied and changed seats, despite the fact that she was the victim in the incident, while the perpetrator received no address and remained in her seat. Many of the passengers on the plane were in disbelief as to the way the Delta employee treated the family. Part of the altercation was videotaped, and it is clear that the Delta employee was being verbally abusive to the Arab-American family.

ADC President Samer Khalaf stated, “This incident is an example of the continuing growth of anti-Arab sentiment, and Islamophobia our communities face in America. We encourage Delta to take immediate steps to rectify this matter and ensure that their agents are better equipped to address instances of harassment.”

Mrs. Darlene Hider, and her family, will work with ADC to explore all possible options in resolving this matter. If you have had similar experiences while flying please report them to ADC by emailing legal@adc.org.