United Airlines has apologized to a US Muslim woman after a flight attendant accused her of being a terrorist by refusing to give her an unopened can of soda, who said it could be used as a weapon.
The US airline also said in a statement on Wednesday that the flight attendant had been banned from serving its customers.
United launched an investigation after Tahera Ahmad, Northwestern University associate chaplain, complained about the incident last week in social media posts that went viral.
Ahmad, who wore a hijab aboard a flight from Chicago to Washington that was operated by Shuttle America for United, said in a Facebook post the flight attendant had discriminated against her when she was denied an unopened can of soft drink.
Tahira Ahmad, director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University was traveling Friday from Chicago to Washington for a conference promoting dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youths. She was wearing a hijab.
She had asked for an unopened can of Diet Coke for hygienic reason, she said. "We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a weapon on the plane," she recalled the flight attendant telling her.
However the attendant gave an unopened can of beer to a man sitting next to Ahmed.
When she complained, Ahmad said, other passengers on the flight directed anti-Islamic comments at her.
Ahmad's description of the incident touched off a social media storm, including a Twitter campaign at #UnitedforTahera, which garnered global support and a call by many to boycott the airline.
Bob Birge, a spokesperson for Republic Airways Holdings, which operated the Shuttle America flight on behalf of United, said the airline's beverage policy did not ban serving unopened cans to passengers.
"While United did not operate the flight, Ms Ahmad was our customer and we apologise to her for what occurred on the flight," United Airlines said in a statement on social media.
"After investigating this matter, United has ensured that the flight attendant, a Shuttle America employee, will no longer serve United customers."
"United does not tolerate behavior that is discriminatory - or that appears to be discriminatory - against our customers or employees," the airline said in a statement.
. Tags: #Anti-Muslim #Islamophobia #Hijab #Head-scarf #America #
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