Thursday, October 13, 2011

Southwest Kick a Muslim Woman Off the Plane After Misunderstanding Her Comments

'Southwest Planes' photo (c) 2008, Douglas Muth - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Southwest has a reputation for booting people off their planes at the slightest excuse, that is when they are not fat shaming people and forcing them to purchase seats they don't need.  In the latest controversy a Pakistani-American Muslim woman wearing a hijab was shown the door after the thought ze heard her say, "it's a go."  What she actually said was "I've got to go," on her phone.

For the sake of argument, let's just say that the flight attendant heard correctly and Irum Abbasi, did indeed say, "it's a go," how do these words constitute a threat to the safety of the passengers?  Umm they don't because it's a go could refer to a plethora of things.  The only reason why it was deemed a threat is because Abbasi happened to be wearing a hijab.  Everyone knows that Muslim women are just a huge threat to law order.  The very fact that they desire to present a modest appearance is evidence of  their subversive ways.

 The following is an excerpt from Courthouse News Services.
She says she was selected for secondary screening after passing through a metal detector, patted down, and allowed to board the flight.

     The flight was scheduled to depart at 8:15 a.m. At 8:17 a.m., the pilot announced there would be an "administrative delay."

     A Transportation Security Authority agent then came aboard and pulled her off the plane.

     Abbasi says that a 3-minute conversation with the TSA agent persuaded him that she was "no security risk," and that the door to Flight 1950 was still open, but she was not allowed to reboard "because the crew was 'uncomfortable' with her on the plane, and that the captain had discretion to make that final call."

     She says she told the TSA agent "that failure to make that flight would cause her to miss a critical research experiment that she was conducting," and for which she had come to San Diego. But she was not allowed to reboard, and was given a voucher for the 10:55 a.m. flight.

     She says she arrived at San Jose State at 1:25 p.m., almost 4 hours late, 25 minutes after her experiment was to begin, by which time most of her subjects had left.

     She says Southwest's discrimination was "intentional, malicious, willful, wanton [and] callous."

     She seeks punitive damages for discrimination based on race, religion, color, ethnicity, alienage, ancestry, and/or national origin, breach of contract, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

     She is represented by James McElroy of Del Mar, and Ameena Mirza Qazi, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, of Anaheim
So she had already gone through the indignity of secondary screening, no doubt because of being identified as Muslim and then was still escorted off the plane.  Despite being determined as not a security risk, Irum Abbasi still made the crew to uncomfortable to be allowed to fly.  Pilots always have the final say on who can and cannot fly on their planes but it is clear to me, that this power was abused in this case.  Every step of the way, Abbasi was a victim of profiling.   It seems that the crews fee fees were more important than Abbasi's civil rights. Once again, it seems that living with bigotry is supposedly much easier than being called a bigot.

Southwest is the airline of bigotry.  Flying with them is the equivalent of flying standby because one never truly knows if you are going to reach your destination despite paying to travel.  Their actions are never about the security of the comfort of passengers, but about disciplining people who do not fit a certain appearance standard.   The process of being removed from a plane is absolutely designed to  cause shame in the person being removed.  There is rarely to never a public apology issued and when the plane does take off minus the passenger that supposedly caused the offense, it confirms in the minds of the fellow passenger that someone was indeed wrong with the person who was removed.

I hope that Southwest is forced to pay out a huge award on this case.  Everything about this smacks of Islamphobia and such bigotry should never be tolerated.  Ensuring the safety of others cannot out weigh the civil rights of marginalized people.  If we do not begin to hold Southwest accountable, they will continue with their bigoted policies and further other people that are already actively oppressed socially.