Was she profiled? Amani Al-Khatahtbeh Muslim blogger pulled off American Airlines flight at Newark Airport after first class passenger lodges harassment complaint.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh‘s arrest follows the Muslim media figure being escorted off an Americans Airlines plane at Newark Airport and charged with trespass and delaying transportation after an argument with a white male passenger erupted.
Al-Khatahtbeh, 28 — who pulled 2.8% of the vote in a Democratic primary for a New Jersey Congressional seat in July — refused to disembark when asked to do so by both flight attendants and the pilot of the Charlotte, N.C.-bound Airbus A319 jet, according to the NJ Herald.
Al-Khatahtbeh’s ouster was caught on live video as flight personnel and Port Authority police ordered everyone off the plane so they could take her into custody.
‘They would rather do this than remove one person from first class because he complained about a Muslim woman on the plane,’ Al-Khatahtbeh, editor in chief of the blog Muslimgirl.com, said as she recorded other passengers complaining as they picked up their belongings and headed toward the door.
— Jake (@yesjaketapia) November 14, 2020
Not feeling safe
‘He’s f—— up everyone else’s day because of his entitlement, his white privilege,’ Al-Khatahtbeh said.
The incident happened around 9:55 a.m., just before the plane was set to leave the gate.
Al-Khatahtbeh said in her livestream that the first-class passenger jumped in front of her at the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint line, sparking an argument.
‘He forced himself in front of me and said, ‘I’m first class, I’m pre-check I shouldn’t have to wait behind you’ and because I recorded the entire thing he said I was harassing him,’ she said. ‘Because I was recording him being a f—— piece of sh—.’
The argument continued on the flight, officials said. As the arguing pair took their seats, the man told flight attendants that Al-Khatahtbeh had harassed him and that ‘he didn’t feel safe,’ a law enforcement source with knowledge of the incident said.
Al-Khatahtbeh was asked to disembark, but she refused unless the first class passenger was also asked to leave, video posted by another traveler by the name of Jake on Twitter shows.
‘I am not moving unless he is also moving,’ she told the officer. ‘Otherwise why are you taking his word over mine? Because he is in first class? If you are kicking me off you have to kick both of us.’
— Jake (@yesjaketapia) November 14, 2020
Singled out for being Muslim?
Officials emptied the plane. Al-Khatahtbeh made sure she was the last to leave. When she did, she was taken into custody by Port Authority police.
‘Had to get off my flight because a man asked a Muslim woman to get off the plane. @AmericanAir employees followed his request and gave the woman no explanation,’ wrote Twitter user Jake, who posted a recording of Al-Khatahtbeh complaining to flight personnel.
Cops charged Al-Khatahtbeh with delaying transportation and defiant trespass for refusing repeated orders to leave the plane. She was later released, officials said.
‘The Port Authority’s independent Inspector General has begun an investigation,’ the agency said in a statement.
The first class passenger was not arrested, but it was not immediately clear if he was allowed back on the flight. The rest of the passengers were allowed back on and the flight, which left around 11 a.m.
In a statement, CAIR and CAIR-New Jersey called on American Airlines to explain why it ordered al-Khatahtbeh, and not the man, to exit the aircraft.
‘Although we do not yet know all of the facts about this incident, we do know that American Airlines has a history of mistreating Muslim travelers,’ said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. ‘The airline must immediately explain why it singled out Amani by contacting the police and ejecting her from a flight based on the word of a man who had allegedly harassed her.’
‘Law enforcement must immediately release Amani from custody and conduct a full and transparent investigation into what happened,’ said CAIR-New Jersey Executive Director Selaedin Maksut. ‘Any investigation must look into the conduct of the unidentified man who allegedly sparked this disturbing incident.’