An Arab-American Muslim family claims they were harassed by a fellow passenger, and then intimidated by a Delta Airlines flight attendant, while taking a flight to Detroit last week.
The Hider family, who claims that they were victims of racist harassment by another passenger, contacted American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee-Michigan (ADC-Michigan). The mother, Darlene Hider, who wears an Islamic headscarf, said that another women on the plane turned to her after her kids were being disruptive and said, “This is America!” while criticizing her and her four children.
Attorney Fatina Abdrabboh, of the ADC, is taking a stand on the alleged harassment of the Dearborn family aboard the Delta flight. “Ethnic intimidation charges may be sought for the perpetrators to send a clear message that any form of harassment or mistreatment along ethnic or religious lines should never be tolerated in this country,” Abdrabboh said.
Nearby passengers said that Hider was visibly shaken and crying as a result of the incident when a Delta flight attendant approached her. The attendant asked what the problem was, and when her husband attempted to answer on his wife’s behalf, he was told to “stay out of this.” After listening to the mother, the Delta agent directed her to “get your kids and change seats.” As seen and heard on the video, when the mother made another attempt to explain to the agent what had occurred and requested that she and her family be able to stay in their seats, the Delta agent threatened, “You are at my wits’ end. You better be quiet before I kick you off of this plane!”
The mother complied and changed seats. ADC has received video footage of a Delta Airlines employee threatening to remove the Muslim family off the plane. ADC Legal Director Abed Ayoub live tweeted the incident as it was unfolding, and circulated a video of the incident online that has been viewed more than 275,000 times. ADC sent a letter to Delta CEO Richard Anderson demanding that Delta Airlines immediately investigate the incident of in-flight harassment, as well as to express ADC’s concern regarding Delta’s procedures for responding to such incidents. A copy of the video was made and aired on Arab television.
Hider has sought legal counsel, according to Abdrabboh, and it is unclear if any talks have been arranged with airline representatives. “Any instances where people are treated in a bigoted way should gnaw away at the fabric of all people’s collective morality,” Abdrabboh said.
Other passengers protested on Hider’s behalf, some even coming to the back of the plane to console her.
A statement from Delta in a published report said it does not condone any form of discrimination and that the airline is investigating the incident.