Recently, Muslim Girl founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh had a “flying while Muslim” experience.
Yes, “flying while Muslim” is a real thing. There is a danger. I remember it every time I fly. I will never forget how vulnerable we feel either. It is no surprise that to this day if you look at someone wrong, or God forbid, stand up for yourself you could be arrested.
Yes, it’s real, and it happened to our founder, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.
How is it that a white man can say she made him feel uncomfortable for telling him to wait while she takes her shoes off while in line at the TSA checkpoint in an airport? Why should Muslim women — or any women — have to feel that they must give special treatment to men, especially white men? I don’t believe in treating anyone differently based on their race, gender, or even religious beliefs, but unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way.
Amani did nothing wrong other than decide to fly while Muslim. If you aren’t Muslim, then please don’t assume you know what it’s like. Excuse me if I seem upset, but I’m more heartbroken and afraid than upset. Upset that the country that I and so many other Americans love with all our heart is treating people this way.
American Airlines should have removed both passengers if they wanted to be fair and get to the bottom of the dispute and understand what really happened between the two of them. There was no need to deplane an entire plane full of passengers and single out a Muslim woman. Why? I ask you why would you believe him, and not her? Is it her faith? But why? We need answers. I know that not all airline and TSA employees are biased, but this incident broke my heart and scared me at the same time. I am fearful that I or some other Muslim woman may go through something similar or worse. I want those agents and airline staff to ask themselves had Amani been non-Muslim, would the incident have still transpired in the manner that it did? What if she was the victim of something terrible at the hands of that man? Would you still believe him over her because he had some type of membership or advantage?
I am pleading with all airlines and officers and airport staff to please reconsider your actions when dealing with complaints. I am not asking you to look the other way, but I am asking you to be fair and just, not biased or prejudiced. Every time I fly, I fear some flight attendant harassing my children, which has happened multiple times in order to try and get a reaction out of me. Because I had knowledge of what the individuals were trying to accomplish, I ignored them. I ignored them because I had heard so many horrible stories of Muslims being taken off planes due to flying while Muslim.
This story is one that I hope many will pay attention to. This story must be talked about further and discussed in all areas of law enforcement and travel agencies. We Muslim women will not be silenced or intimidated any longer to remain silent by any man, whether white, Black, Brown, or orange, Muslim or non-Muslim. We will stand side by side with our sisters and amplify our voices and come together to create a better system and end racism and biased nature in our communities and in our skies. Islamophobia has no place here or in the travel realm. Enough is enough.