Three Muslim clerics forced off US plane
Three Muslim clerics traveling to a religious conference in the United States have been forced to get off a Delta flight because the pilot refused to fly with them on board.
The imams were heading to a conference on Islamphobia in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Imam al-Amin Abdul-Latif was barred from boarding a flight from New York to Charlotte late on Friday.
The other two clerics were traveling from Memphis, Tennessee to Charlotte.
Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul of the Islamic Association of Greater Memphis were pulled from a connecting flight from Memphis to Charlotte on Friday, The Daily Mail reported.
“It’s racism and bias because of our religion and appearance and because of misinformation about our religion,” Rahman said. “If they understood Islam, they wouldn’t do this.”
The aircraft had pulled away from the gate when the pilot announced that the plane had to return. The two men, who were wearing tradition Indian and Arab clothing, were then asked to go back to the boarding gate for “additional screening.”
The two clerics — who had already cleared a Transportation Security Administration check — went through the additional screening only to be told by a Delta supervisor that the pilot was refusing to let them board the plane.
Rahman said they were told that the pilot thought “some passengers might be uncomfortable” with their presence on the plane. They were booked on another flight later that day.
Jarek Beem, a spokesman for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which operates the Delta Connection flight, said, “We take security and safety very seriously, and the event is currently under investigation.”
“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused,” he added.