Middle East studies in the News
SAALT, CAIR Condemn Southwest Airlines' Racial and Religious Profiling of Muslim Professor [on Anila Daulatzai]
by Vivek Trivedi
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), joined 30 other national and local civil rights organizations,* including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), in condemning Southwest Airlines' treatment of a pregnant Muslim-American professor, Anila Daulatzai, in September.
In a letter sent to Southwest Airlines and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA) on October 19, 2017, the coalition of civil rights organizations wrote in part:
"Our organizations are appalled at the mistreatment of Anila Daulatzai by Southwest Airlines and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA). We support Ms. Daulatzai's demands and call for changes in policy and practice on the part of Southwest Airlines and the MDTA.
"Communities of color unfortunately endure profiling at airports and on airlines on a regular basis. In fact, Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh passengers have experienced a disproportionately high level of discrimination in the 16 years since September 11, 2001. 'Flying while brown' means that passengers are often subjected to secondary screenings, interrogations, bodily searches, and removal from airplanes for no legitimate reason at all.
"Anila Daulatzai, a pregnant woman who is a Pakistani American and a Muslim, is the latest person to face this type of airline discrimination. In her case, Southwest Airlines staff insisted that Daulatzai deplane her flight because of a dog allergy even though she had made it clear that her allergies were not life-threatening. Instead of believing Daulatzai's own statements about her physical conditions, Southwest Airlines personnel chose to escalate the situation by alerting the Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTA). According to Daulatzai, MDTA law enforcement agents pulled her from her seat via her belt loop, tore her pants, and dragged her through the aisle. They then allegedly made racist remarks about immigrants and charged her with disorderly conduct and other criminal charges.
"Ms. Daulatzai's mistreatment by Southwest Airlines is part of a pattern and practice of profiling. Between 2015 and 2016, over a period of just six months, several Muslim, Arab, and South Asian passengers reported incidents of being rebooked for their appearance, removed from a flight for speaking in Arabic in a private phone conversation or simply for asking to switch seats.
"We call upon the MDTA to drop the criminal charges against Ms. Daulatzai. We also call
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