Muslim Woman Sues After Removal From Plane

SAN DIEGO (AP) – A Muslim-American woman who was removed from a plane in San Diego last spring sued Southwest Airlines on Thursday, alleging she was discriminated against because she was wearing an Islamic head covering.

Irum Abbasi, a psychology graduate student at San Jose State University who is a U.S. citizen, filed the lawsuit in federal court in San Diego.

“Suspicions were aroused because of her religion,” Abbasi’s attorney, James McElroy, said at a news conference. “She would not have been removed from the plane if she had been a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman.”

Abbasi, a mother of three, was taken off the San Jose-bound flight in March as it was about to depart after a flight attendant thought she heard her say “it’s a go” on her cellphone.

Abbasi “was horrified, embarrassed, humiliated and confused,” the lawsuit stated.

In fact, Abbasi had said “I have to go” because the plane was about to depart, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

Abbasi was searched and given clearance to reboard the flight within three minutes, but the pilot claimed the crew was uncomfortable flying with her and refused to allow her aboard.

She was given an apology, a voucher and a boarding pass for the next San Jose flight. As a result, she missed a critical research experiment that she needed to be able to complete for her graduate studies, the lawsuit said.

Chris Mainz, spokesman for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co., said the airline apologized to Abbasi for her inconvenience and her concerns were addressed “in good faith.”

“In this case, our employees raised a safety concern based on the customer’s behavior, and we had a duty to thoroughly address those concerns before clearing the customer to travel,” Mainz said in an emailed statement.

“We have a vast, diverse workforce, and we celebrate diversity among our employees and our customers. We do not discriminate against anyone for any reason, and we’ve been recognized as a leader for our diversity and care for all of our customers throughout our 40 years of service.”

Southwest has received widespread notoriety for removing passengers.

Last week, the airline ejected a female couple who kissed during a flight, and earlier this year it removed Green Day singer Billy Joe Armstrong and a University of New Mexico football player for wearing pants that were too baggy. A couple of years ago, a woman was taken off a San Diego flight for wearing clothing deemed too revealing.

“It’s time for the company to take responsibility for the weak policies and standards that allow for employee biases to affect treatment of passengers,” McElroy said.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. NiteNurse says:

    Mrs. Abassi is obviously an American because she sues for ridiculous reasons.

    1. Atheist Lawyer says:

      LOL. Nice point.

  2. darrell says:

    first mr. mcelroy southwest inst burger king and you dont get it your way.
    passenger safety and security are top priority when you are about to be miles high in the air. the issue was addressed, determined to be a misunderstanding and amends were made. when it comes to that airplane the pilot is the final authority. this is a frivilous lawsuit in an attempt to reach a settlement so she can pay off her student loans.
    in the other instances involving southwest they were well within their right. its time that the liberal left cant get away with its agenda everytime they want publicity or an excuse to sue someone.
    keep up the good work southwest employee’s.

  3. YRofTexas says:

    If you say someone is “African-American” you understand the title.
    If you say someone is “Asian-American” you understand the title.
    If you say someone is “Mexican-American” you understand the title.

    What does “Muslim-American” mean? I know of no country/continent called “Muslim”.

    That is the start of the stupidity of this article and situation. I wear a head scarf. It is not a berka, yet people stare and act strangely toward me sometimes. I have used a scarf since 1983, as it use to be a fashion statement in the 1950’s to 1970’s as standard hair covering in America.

    But since 9/11, we have all become more sensitive to such things, and it is UNDERSTANDABLE since segments of the Muslim community have waged war against the US and other western countries.


    Lady, get a life; not a lawyer.

    1. Alex R says:

      Well put, I totally agree with your comments.

  4. Dino says:

    Muslims continue to use our justice system to weaken us and eventually in the name of political correctness we will be paralyzed. If a blonde haired, blue eyed woman got on the plane with a cover over her head/face and said something suspicious she would be questioned also. I take GREAT offense to this money sucking lawyer stating that! Muslims KNIOW when they travel by any public transport, they are going to be scrutinized. Just like my dark skin causes me to be extra careful because I live so close to the border…..DEAL with it or GO HOME! …..I LOVE SOUTH WEST AIRLINES!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Dino says:

    I just have to give South West Airlines credit for standing up for what’s right!
    Every one of these people that the artilce stated was thrown off of a flight, KNEW the rules going in to the game! But some sad little people need that “extra attention” wasted on them so they feel a little more important than the rest of us.

  6. Rick McDaniel says:

    The airlines has to protect the public. It is unfortunate, but if they wear the trappings of terror, as much as religion, then those same trappings of apparel can cause people to err on the side of caution.

    That’s just how it is going to have to be. There is no solution for that problem.

  7. Juniper says:

    This is bull**** the woman was clearly harrassed just by her apearance, by
    someone’s judgemantal paranoia! What do they want next every passenger
    to wear a southwest uniform??? c’mon!

    1. darrell says:

      Juniper, your absolutely right. they should have had that black helicopter whisk this radical islamic terrorist away to Git-mo and waterboarded her until she confessed all of her knowledge about terrorist activities she is involved in. rounded up her family and children and known associates and interrogated them as well.
      all becasue of how she dressed. its the way we are supposed to respond based on your opinion.
      Works for me!! what do you wear?

  8. Aliah Nassar says:

    This is a blatant case of profiling and discrimination, and for the life of me I cannot understand how any of you on here can support that. It goes against the very principals of our nation,whether you understand or agree with her choice of religious practice, the airlines were wrong and she has every right to sue them for the pain, suffering and embarrassment and humiliation she suffered. If it was any one else for any other reason you would be standing behind them supporting them but b/c she is a muslim , she is getting the typical ignorance, intolerance and hate filled negativity from so called”Christians” no doubt. It’s any wonder they feel they way they do ,the non muslim americans in this country are not being tolerant and respectful and reaching out an olive branch to them the way they have tried with us.

    1. darrell says:

      yea well, tell that to the christians in egypt that is majority muslim where even government that is supposed to protect them is killing them. put a sock in it. this isnt burger king you dont get it your way.

  9. annie says:

    What kind of ethics is it when someone uses a law suite to get even? This person is healthy and living as an American..they are ruining the Americian jUSTICE SYSTEM FOR THOSE people that actually need it. Did she loose a arm or a leg or something terrible happen? No, she did have one embarassing moment…and that is worth how much in American Dollars? Get real…law suites like this contributes to other Americans pay higher prices! Her aif fare could have been paid for and it was….that’s even steven! Get real!

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