Muslim Woman Kicked Off Southwest Flight Needs to Chill Out


muslim woman in hijabTaken out of context, this story of a Muslim-American woman and mother of three booted off a Southwest Airlines flight is truly disgusting.

The way she herself tells it, Irum Abbasi was on a flight about to depart from San Diego to San Jose, talking on her cellphone. She told the person on the line, "I've got to go," and hung up the phone. A flight attendant nearby, however, thought she said, "It's a go," which apparently qualifies as "suspicious behavior." And, the fact that Abbasi was wearing a hijab only guaranteed that she was escorted off the airplane by the TSA that much faster.

It's disgusting that people are so prejudiced against difference that something as baseless as a traditional head scarf and a seemingly innocuous three-word phrase would be grounds for removal. What makes the story even more infuriating is that Southwest has had its fair share of diversity scandals of late including discriminating against same-sex couples and kicking an overweight person off a plane.

But the context of the story that needs to be filled in is that we don't know the flight attendant's version of the story. Even more important, Southwest has every right to remove anyone they perceive to be a threat to their passengers. And, to be fair, the airline put her on the very next flight and issued an apology. Seen in that light, you've got to wonder if Abbasi's subsequent lawsuit against the airlines is an overreaction of sorts.

Yes, it's true: Abbasi is actually suing Southwest for discrimination and has said she wants the crew disciplined. And while I can think of a million other reparations that Southwest could give her and would be appropriate in this situation -- a public apology, a lifetime of free airline tickets, a promise of company-wide diversity training -- a settlement, at least in this case, seems like overkill.


Image via sittiealiah/Flickr

in the news, terrorism, discrimination


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Amy Mathis

Honestly? I would have kicked her off too.  What if what she had said was, "its a go" and someone blew up the damn plane because the flight attendant didn't want to offend someone?

hotrd... hotrdumommy

It seems to me that you're the one that needs to chill out. Yeah sure they said they were sorry and moved the passenger to another flight, but enough already with the whole security issue thing. I'm sure if someone who was not muslim was in the same position, they wouldn't need to "chill out".

hotrd... hotrdumommy

P.S. The next time I'm on a plane I'm gonna say it's a go just to see what happens. Jackasses.

nonmember avatar Ci

Did you know according to CIA/FBI sattistics, white conservative christians actually pose more a a terrorism threat to the US then muslims? Yet if you sat your white privledged behind on a plane and said 'it's a go'. No one would mess with you. So now, she doesn't need to chill out. It's time to stand up to bigots and double standards.

mleil... mleilanim

@Mathis: you said it!

jasmi... jasmineg86

i am fully on board with getting the frivolous lawsuits out of the courts- but this one? this had some merit. the company had the opportunity to handle it via any of the the methods you mentioned. instead they put her on the next plane and kept it moving. doesn't seem like they are too keen on spending their money on sensitivity training or lifetime air fare to me. but what company do we know these days that does go out of their way to do the right line despite their bottom line? only extra money being spent these days is on lawyers and campaign contributions.

Nellyo Nellyo

I'd rather the flight attendant be WRONG and say something versus say nothing at all and have another disaster happen.

She was doing her job. Shut up. The next time some terrorist event happens everyone will be asking "why didn't someone do something? Why didn't someone report suspicious behavior?"

People are trying to do the right thing and can't freakin' win.

nonmember avatar kat

I understand where she is coming from.
You try being a Muslim woman travelling and see how people treat you. Maybe this was the last straw. I am sure this was not the first time that she was discriminated against. I appreciate that they issued an apology but if it was me in that situation it would not be enough.

nonmember avatar kathy

Thank you hotrdumommy. This lawsuit absolutely has merit if only to draw attention to the issue.

nonmember avatar KD

WoW! I think the author needs to realize that in the face of true discrimination a lawsuit is acceptable. Even the phrase "It's a go" is not a terrorist phrase. Maybe she is a business woman talking about a meeting, maybe her child was just accepted to college, maybe the phrase was in a completely different context...a phrase does not make a terrorist.
Suspicious behavior is one thing, clinging to a phrase as a terrorist activity is another.

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