Press Releases

CAIR-Chicago Announces Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against United Airlines

CAIR logoMuslim Family Forcibly Removed from Flight after Requesting an Additional Strap for their Child’s Booster Seat

(CHICAGO, IL, 3/10/17) – Today, Friday March 10th, the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) will hold a 10:00am news conference to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit against United Airlines on behalf of Eaman and Mohamad Shebley for their removal from their United Airlines flight without cause.

On March 20, 2016, the Shebley family was wrongly removed from their United Airlines Flight 5811 after asking for an extra strap to safely fasten their youngest child in the child booster seat. After being asked to remove the child booster seat, the Shebleys complied and were asked to show their tickets and then removed from the flight. 

SEE: CAIR-Chicago Seeks Corrective Action After Muslim Family Kicked Off United Airlines Flight

WATCH: Muslim Family Kicked Off United Airlines Flight  

The Shebelys are represented by CAIR-Chicago attorneys Phillip J. Robertson and Maaria Mozaffar.

WHO: CAIR-Chicago

WHAT: Press conference announcing the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit against United Airlines

WHEN: TODAY, Friday, March 10th, 2017 at 10:00am CST

WHERE: CAIR-Chicago, 17 N. State Street, Suite 1500, Chicago IL, 60602

“We believe the defendant, United Airlines as the employer of its agents should be held liable for the pilots and aircrew staffs’ negligent actions as they participated in unprofessional behavior in dealing with the plaintiffs who were passengers on the plane.” says Maaria Mozaffar, CAIR-Chicago Legislative Attorney. “This negligent behavior was motivated by a personal bias demonstrative of the fact that United Airlines agents failed to prove the plaintiffs posed any threat to their fellow passengers, were not wanted on board by fellow passengers or did not follow proper flight instructions. The only fact that distinguished the plaintiffs from their fellow passengers was that they were visibly Muslim. They were a visibly Muslim family asking for safety precautions for their travelling child.”

“The injustices experienced by the Shebleys as they tried to enjoy a family vacation resulted directly from the exercise of unfettered discretion by airline staff and personnel who reacted to a routine passenger inquiry in an arbitrary and hostile manner.” says Phil Robertson, CAIR-Chicago Litigation Director. “This lawsuit is an attempt to restore some measure of accountability to the airlines for the unreasonable conduct of their employees, and it underscores the dire need for Federal intervention and guidance from the Court as to the appropriate standards to be implemented by airline personnel in these situations. Otherwise, these ad hoc determinations will continue to result in the unlawful and discriminatory targeting of law-abiding Muslim passengers by airlines throughout the U.S.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. 



CONTACT: CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 312-212-1520, 202-870-0166,; CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Hoda Katebi, 312-212-1520, 405-413-1222,

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