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Thread: 'Safest' seat remarks get Muslim family kicked off plane

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    Thumbs down 'Safest' seat remarks get Muslim family kicked off plane

    'Safest' seat remarks get Muslim family kicked off plane


    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Muslim family removed from an airliner Thursday after passengers became concerned about their conversation say AirTran officials refused to rebook them, even after FBI investigators cleared them of wrongdoing.
    A Muslim family was removed from an AirTran flight after a conversation about the safest place to sit.





    Atif Irfan said federal authorities removed eight members of his extended family and a friend after passengers heard them discussing the safest place to sit and misconstrued the nature of the conversation.
    Irfan, a U.S. citizen and tax attorney, said he was "impressed with the professionalism" of the FBI agents who questioned him, but said he felt mistreated when the airline refused to book the family for a later flight.
    AirTran Airways late Thursday said they acted properly and that the family was offered full refunds and can fly with AirTran again.
    "AirTran Airways complied with all TSA, law enforcement and Homeland Security directives and had no discretion in the matter," the company said in a prepared statement. Watch how Muslims find climate of fear at airport »
    Family members said FBI agents tried to work it out with the airline, but to no avail. iReport.com: Share your story
    "The FBI agents actually cleared our names," said Inayet Sahin, Irfan's sister-in-law. "They went on our behalf and spoke to the airlines and said, 'There is no suspicious activity here. They are clear. Please let them get on a flight so they can go on their vacation,' and they still refused."
    "The airline told us that we can't fly their airline," Irfan said.
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    The dispute occurred about 1 p.m. Thursday as AirTran flight 175 was preparing for takeoff from Reagan National Airport outside of Washington, D.C., on a flight destined for Orlando, Florida.
    Atif Irfan, his brother, their wives, a sister and three children were headed to Orlando to meet with family and attend a religious conference.
    "The conversation, as we were walking through the plane trying to find our seats, was just about where the safest place in an airplane is," Sahin said. "We were (discussing whether it was safest to sit near) the wing, or the engine or the back or the front, but that's it. We didn't say anything else that would raise any suspicion." Watch Muslims recount how they were kicked off plane »
    The conversation did not contain the words "bomb," "explosion," "terror" or other words that might have aroused suspicion, Irfan said.
    "When we were talking, when we turned around, I noticed a couple of girls kind of snapped their heads," said Sobia Ijaz, Irfan's wife. "I kind of thought to myself, 'Oh, you know, maybe they're going to say something.' It didn't occur to me that they were going to make it such a big issue."
    Some time later, while the plane was still at the gate, an FBI agent boarded the plane and asked Irfan and his wife to leave the plane. The rest of the family was removed 15 or 20 minutes later, along with a family friend, Abdul Aziz, a Library of Congress attorney and family friend who was coincidentally taking the same flight and had been seen talking to the family.
    After the FBI interviewed family members, it released them, Irfan said.
    AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said the incident began when some passengers reported hearing suspicious remarks by a woman and alerted flight attendants. Two federal air marshals, who were on board the flight, notified law enforcement about the security-related issue, AirTran said.
    After the family and Aziz were taken for questioning, the remaining 95 passengers were taken off of the plane and rescreened, along with the crew and the baggage, AirTran said.
    Irfan said he believes his family is owed an apology.
    "Really, at the end of the day, we're not out here looking for money. I'm an attorney. I know how the court system works. We're basically looking for someone to say... 'We're apologizing for treating you as second-class citizens.'"
    "We are proud Americans," Sahin said. "You know we decided to have our children and raise them here. We can very easily go anywhere we want in the world, but you know we love it here and we're not going to go away, no matter what."
    Aziz said there is a "very strong possibility" he will pursue a civil rights lawsuit.
    "I guess it's just a situation of guilt by association," Aziz said. "They see one Muslim talking to another Muslim and they automatically assume something wrong is going on."
    source: 'Safest' seat remarks get Muslim family kicked off plane - CNN.com
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    La vie en rose DitaPage*'s Avatar
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    I can see how people would be concerned though! I know I would be!

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    Because they were discussing the safest place to sit? I know I always look at how far the emergency exits are from my seat.

    If they were terrorists planning to crash a plane into a building, do you think they'd be concerned about their safety?
    "Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

    "The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance." -Benjamin Franklin

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    La vie en rose DitaPage*'s Avatar
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    Oh yeah, I didn't think of that. If the plane is going down, no seat would be safe, duh.

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    Pssst. There IS no safe place to sit on a plane. You just take your chances and enjoy the ride.
    If all the women in this place were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised - Dorothy Parker

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    ^That sounds like my dating philosophy.
    "Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

    "The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance." -Benjamin Franklin

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    Elite Member DeadDwarf's Avatar
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    Oh for fucks sake. I bet the girls who reported them were white too.

    They wouldn't have batted an eye if the family was white and talking about safe seats. And like noted above, if they were going to bomb the plane, why would they care about "safe" seats? Stupid assholes... but since they were Muslim (GASP!!!) they must have been planning to blow up the fucking plane.

    White people are NEVER terriorists.

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    ^Exactly. Oh noes, it's the scary brown people!
    "Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

    "The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance." -Benjamin Franklin

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    They were dumb to assume that all scary 'brown' people are Muslims anyway.

    I have quite a few friends that are Muslim and white, from Macedonia, Albania, etc.

    And by the same token, I have Middle Eastern 'brown' friends that are Christian....Mr. Witch is part Greek and part Lebanese, and I know tons of other Lebanese people that are Maronite, or Eastern Orthodox.

    There are even Chinese Muslims- Uighurs

    If people would just get educated the world would be so much better.........just a pipe dream.

    But the airline is really stupid, after this was all cleared up what was the problem?



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    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    Wtf is wrong with people? As racist and fearmongering as those ignorant twats were for judging the family on the basis of sterotypes, what I really, truly cannot understand is why the airline did not outdo itself with profuse apologies once the FBI cleared them.

    A sincere apology is a powerful thing and is called for here. But even well after the fact, the airline's statements to the press are assy.
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    cuz as you know, suicide bombers usually take their whole families with them to meet the 72 virgins in heaven.
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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    I've watched the coverage on this story today. These people knew exactly what they were doing and were deliberately race-baiting so they can file a lawsuit.
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    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    ^^ Really? That surprises me. What makes you draw that conclusion?
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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    1,2,3.... lawsuit!

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    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    I went and read better articles on this (no offense to OP!), and apparently the family did go to their vacation destination, because the FBI was able to book them a flight on a different airline. Also, the airline did offer an apologetic statement:

    AIRTRAN AIRWAYS OFFERS APOLOGY TO CUSTOMERS ON FLIGHT 175 YESTERDAY

    ORLANDO, Fla. (January 2, 2009) – AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI), today issued the following statement regarding AirTran flight 175 originating at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on January 1, 2009.

    Our goal at AirTran Airways is to offer a safe, pleasant and positive travel experience for all customers every day on every flight. We sincerely regret that the passengers on flight 175 did not have a positive travel experience on January 1, 2009.

    Security is a shared responsibility and this incident highlights the multiple layers of security that are in place in today’s aviation environment. While ultimately this issue proved to be a misunderstanding, the steps taken were necessary.

    Alert passengers reported to the flight crew what they believed were inappropriate comments allegedly made by one of the passengers onboard, and the flight crew notified the federal air marshals that were assigned to the flight. The federal air marshals onboard contacted local and federal law enforcement officials who came to the gate and escorted the individuals in question off the aircraft to ensure they posed no threat to the flight. After deplaning the remaining passengers and performing a sweep of the aircraft and rescreening all passengers, crew, checked and carry-on baggage, the flight departed two hours late without the nine passengers who were detained for
    questioning.

    We regret that the issue escalated to the heightened security level it did on New Year’s Day, but we trust everyone understands that the security and the safety of our passengers is paramount and cannot be compromised.

    We apologize to all of the passengers – to the nine who had to undergo extensive interviews from the authorities and to the 95 who ultimately made the flight. Nobody on Flight 175 reached their destination on time on New Year’s Day, and we regret it.

    The airline has refunded the air fares of the nine passengers detained for questioning, has agreed to reimburse the passengers for expenses incurred by taking another airline and has also offered to transport the passengers home to Washington, DC, free of charge.
    This is a pretty good apology. It doesn't mention race or anything, but I have to assume that the airline's attorneys would advise against mentioning it. The airline also could not ignore a complaint from passengers about possible safety issues--they followed their proper procedures.

    So maybe the real issue is just the underlying fear of and ignorance about Muslims that the women on the plane, and so many non-Muslim Americans, have. There's no quick solution to that problem, and the airline certainly can't solve it.

    I do wonder, if the family in question had looked like white Christians, would things have been handled exactly the same way? One can only speculate ...
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