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San Diego woman denied flight blames King hearings for rising anti-Muslim sentiment

A San Diego Muslim woman wearing a headscarf who was removed from a Southwest Airlines plane at Lindbergh Field on Sunday has received several apologies from the airline and a voucher good for a free flight “as a gesture of goodwill”.

But the woman, Irum Abbasi, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy and civil rights group which has taken up her cause, said at a Wednesday morning news conference at Lindbergh Field that this event is a sign of a anti-Muslim sentiment spreading through the country.

A Pakistan native and U.S. citizen, Abbasi was removed from a flight to San Jose on Sunday after an attendant thought she heard her say “It’s a go” on her cell phone. Abbasi said she actually said “I’ve got to go” because the flight was ready to depart.

“I was in tears,” said Abbasi. “I have lived in the United States 10 years. I am a U.S. citizen.” While she was quickly cleared, Abbasi said she was told she could not re-board the flight because the crew was uncomfortable with her presence.

Abbasi and CAIR both link her ejection to last week’s controversial congressional hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community” by Rep. Peter King, R-New York.

“Apart from the negative image it portrayed of the Muslim community in front of all the people at the airport, I strongly believe that this was a direct result of the hearings held by Peter King,” said Abbasi, a graduate student in experimental psychology at San Jose State who was returning there for a research project.

San Diego Union Tribune, 16 March 2011

Original post: San Diego woman denied flight blames King hearings for rising anti-Muslim sentiment


  1. How embarrassing ,how this country has become ignorance and bigotry as long you are a Muslim don’t matter anymore they’re going to judge you even if you are a person with good character..

  2. This incident is outrageous. I have traveled all over Europe and America in the past, as a recognizably muslim woman clad in my black abaya and headscarf (hijab), with no problems. I was never stopped or searched or given a hard time. Suddenly I was boarding a flight from Florida to California on my own (over the Fourth of July weekend last year) and I was told I needed to go into a separate room and be searched. Can you believe they wanted to look under my hijab?! They said it (my hijab) looked very “poofy and big” at the back and they thought I could be hiding something under there! All they found was my hair and my big “hair flower” accessory that I use to create more volume at the back of my hijab style like so many other hijabis! Nevertheless, it was humiliating for me to be subjected to this treatment, to be pulled out of line in front of the other passengers, to have to uncover myself to strangers and be searched like some criminal. At least I was allowed to join the flight- but what did the other passengers think of me after witnessing my “preferential treatment”? I know it was probably in large part due to the Fourth of July, and maybe the security levels were raised, but it really put me off flying again. By the way- I am a revert to Islam, born in America, and my family have been in this country since the 1600’s!

  3. I’d like to see an article about educated qualified Americans with Muslim names not getting job interviews or call backs from the white HR staff.

    I want to hear about the unemployed muslim man whose wife deemed him a bad provider and left because he could not get a respectable job that paid him a good livable wage.

    If it can happen in the UK, why not here:

    I wish our President would talk about this. I’m sure he faced similar situations all his life.

  4. In God’s name how could this be! Can someone just imagine this kind of public embaracement? I don’t think people who do this kind of a thing really have women in their family, how could you asked a woman or even a mother to remove her head scarf (hijab) in public? Isn’t it ridiculous? Now i see that apart from the lack of understanding of Islam, honestly! Hate is mostly what makes others treath muslims with a bad habit

  5. Think of all of the work flight attendants have to do just before plane takeoff … and yet one of those flight attendants felt it was his/her responsibility to hover over this passenger eavesdropping on her cellphone conversation because, SINCE SHE WAS WEARING A HEAD SCARF, she might say something “dangerous” during the conversation that might merit removing her from the plane for the safety of the rest of the passengers? I’d love to know how the rest of the passengers reacted. Did any of them speak up about this? Did perhaps some of them speak up but were intimidated back into complacency because flight personnel told them they would be removed from the plane as well if they continued to object to this woman’s treatment?

  6. What a bunch of red necked bigots.
    Time to isolate tht US for its own good.
    Perhaps if people refused to travel there for holidays or for anything unless absolutely necessary, (relatives), then they might wake up to themselves. Time for BDS activity against the US?

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