(Washington, DC, 11/18/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its Chicago chapterÂ today are calling on Spirit Airlines to issue a public apology toÂ fourÂ passengers who were removed from a Chicago-bound flight at the Baltimore Washington InternationalÂ Airport in Baltimore, Md.Â Tuesday morning.Â
Spirit AirlinesÂ Flight 969 was preparing for takeoff fromÂ BaltimoreÂ when a passenger alerted a flight attendant of “suspicious activity” on board the plane. The “suspicious activity” she referred to apparentlyÂ was a man who appeared to be ofÂ Middle-Eastern Â descentÂ watching a news clip on his mobileÂ phone.Â
The four passengers were askedÂ to exit the plane at the flightÂ captain's requestÂ before the flight resumed toÂ Chicago. None of them were charged withÂ any crime. Alert levels have been heightened after last Friday's Paris terror attacks for whichÂ the terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility.Â
“Americans of all faiths and ethnicitiesÂ should be able to travel freely without being harassed orÂ subjected to unconstitutionalÂ racial or religious profiling,” saidÂ CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry.Â “These passengers were inconvenienced andÂ forced to endureÂ humiliating treatment and invasive questioning for no apparent substantial reason otherÂ thanÂ because their perceived ethnicityÂ caused alarm in a fellow passenger. We call onÂ Spirit Airlines to issue a public apology to all four passengers and take steps to ensure this does not happen again.”
â€œThe threshold for â€˜see something, say somethingâ€™ is meant to apply to suspicious behavior, not personal prejudices against minorities engaging in non-suspicious behavior,â€ saidÂ CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.Â â€œWatching news on your smartphone has never qualified as a security threat or as suspicious behavior and could have been easily vetted as such with minimal inquiry by the flight crew. That this was escalated into an ordeal seems to be exclusively due to the passenger's perceived ethnicity.â€
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:Â CAIR-Maryland Outreach Manager Zainab Chaudry, email@example.com, 410-971-6062;Â CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, cell 202-870-0166,Â firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR-Chicago Communications Coordinator Renner Larson,Â 312-212-1520,Â email@example.com