Taken 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
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