Anti-Arab Hate Crimes, Discrimination Continue – Killing in Detroit, Passengers Expelled from Airplanes

WASHINGTON, DC — A number of troubling new instances of hate crimes and discrimination against Arab Americans and Muslims, or those perceived to be, unfolded across the country today. In seven separate instances in cities including Tampa, Orlando, Minneapolis, and San Antonio, pilots or passengers caused Arab American or Muslim passengers, who had passed through rigorous security checks and been seated, to be expelled from the aircraft simply on the grounds of their apparent ethnicity. And an Arab American was killed in Michigan in an apparent act of vengeance for the September 11 attacks.
In one instance, three Arab American men were expelled from Northwest flight 673 from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City at the insistence of other passengers, because of their ethnicity. When the other passengers refused to fly if the three remained on board, Northwest expelled the Arab Americans from the plane. A Northwest spokesman has been quoted as saying, “Under FAA security rules, the airline has no choice but to re-accommodate a passenger or passengers if their actions or presence make a majority of passengers uncomfortable and threaten to disrupt normal operations of flight.” In other cases, such as that in Orlando, where two businessmen from Pakistan were expelled from a flight they had boarded, it was the pilots who insisted on passengers’ expulsion due to perceived ethnicity.
ADC appealed to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Justice Department to promptly issue guidelines clarifying that neither pilots’ authority nor passenger sentiments could be grounds for excluding passengers simply on the basis of ethnicity or religion. ADC President Ziad Asali said “when the FAA regulations were promulgated they were not intended as a vehicle for the arbitrary exclusion of passengers due to race, ethnicity or religion. Clearly it is unacceptable that passengers are expelled from aircraft because someone, even the pilot, just doesn’t like the way they look. The FAA needs to clarify its rules regarding the expulsion of passengers based on perceived ethnicity.”
Elsewhere, what is at least the third hate crime murder since September 11 occurred in Lincoln Park, Michigan, just outside Detroit. The victim, a 45-year-old US citizen originally from Yemen, was shot 12 times in the back by his girlfriend’s former lover. According to the suspect’s own police confession and the girlfriend’s statements, as the two were sleeping, her former boyfriend broke in and dragged the Arab American out of bed, saying “I’m going to kill you for what happened in New York and DC.” The victim ran outside and was killed. The attacker is in custody and has made a full confession. ADC has received assurances from the FBI and Justice Department that anti-Arab hate crimes will be vigorously investigated.

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