Press Releases

SAALT, CAIR Condemn Southwest Airlines’ Racial and Religious Profiling of Muslim Professor

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/23/17) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), today joined 30 other national and local civil rights organizations,* including South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), in condemning Southwest Airlines’ treatment of a pregnant Muslim-American professor, Anila Daulatzai, in September.

SEE: Demanding Justice for Anila Daulatzai

In a letter sent to Southwest Airlines and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA) on October 19, 2017, the coalition of civil rights organizations wrote in part:

“Our organizations are appalled at the mistreatment of Anila Daulatzai by Southwest Airlines and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA). We support Ms. Daulatzai’s demands and call for changes in policy and practice on the part of Southwest Airlines and the MDTA.

“Communities of color unfortunately endure profiling at airports and on airlines on a regular basis. In fact, Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh passengers have experienced a disproportionately high level of discrimination in the 16 years since September 11, 2001. ”˜Flying while brown’ means that passengers are often subjected to secondary screenings, interrogations, bodily searches, and removal from airplanes for no legitimate reason at all.

“Anila Daulatzai, a pregnant woman who is a Pakistani American and a Muslim, is the latest person to face this type of airline discrimination. In her case, Southwest Airlines staff insisted that Daulatzai deplane her flight because of a dog allergy even though she had made it clear that her allergies were not life-threatening. Instead of believing Daulatzai’s own statements about her physical conditions, Southwest Airlines personnel chose to escalate the situation by alerting the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA). According to Daulatzai, MDTA law enforcement agents pulled her from her seat via her belt loop, tore her pants, and dragged her through the aisle. They then allegedly made racist remarks about immigrants and charged her with disorderly conduct and other criminal charges.

“Ms. Daulatzai’s mistreatment by Southwest Airlines is part of a pattern and practice of profiling. Between 2015 and 2016, over a period of just six months, several Muslim, Arab, and South Asian passengers reported incidents of being rebooked for their appearance, removed from a flight for speaking in Arabic in a private phone conversation or simply for asking to switch seats. . .

“We call upon the MDTA to drop the criminal charges against Ms. Daulatzai. We also call upon both the MDTA and Southwest Airlines to provide adequate and appropriate restitution to Ms. Daulatzai. In addition, we demand that both the MDTA and Southwest Airlines make systemic changes to their policies and protocols. We call upon both entities to disclose their protocols for responding to passenger-related situations aboard flights, including their trainings and practices around de-escalation and mediation tactics. We continue to demand that Southwest Airlines training policies be disclosed publicly, and that personnel at all levels be provided with mandatory and regular trainings on conflict resolution, de-escalation tactics, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, and anti-racism. We call upon the MDTA to engage in regular trainings on Islamophobia, systemic racism, xenophobia, anti-Blackness, and implicit bias.”


  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
  • South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
  • Advocates for Youth
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
  • Andolan: Organizing South Asian Workers
  • Asian American Psychological Association
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA
  • Chhaya CDC
  • Defending Rights & Dissent
  • Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
  • Jewish Voice for Peace – Network Against Islamophobia
  • Jews Say No!
  • Kiran, Inc.
  • MPower Change
  • Maitri
  • Muslim Youth Network
  • Muslimmatters
  • National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
  • National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA)
  • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
  • National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD)
  • National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
  • National Organization for Women
  • National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)
  • Project South
  • Raksha, Inc.
  • Sapna NYC
  • Turning Point for Women and Families

CAIR said it has witnessed an unprecedented increase in hate incidents targeting members of minority groups since the election of Donald Trump.

The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization urges community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at:       

CAIR recently launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging American Muslims and members of other minority groups to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.

For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here:   

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

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

– END –

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,


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