Woman in headscarf denied only fun part of air travel.
Excuse me, ma'am, can I see your Diet Coke owner's permit? (via Facebook)
Complimentary beverages are all we, as airplane passengers, have left. It's our one moment to make a choice, get something for free, and enjoy ourselves for two to three minutes before returning to checking to see if the in-flight wifi suddenly became free.
And now that small joy has been denied a Muslim chaplain who is claiming she was discriminated against because of her religion.
31-year-old Tahera Ahmad is a chaplain and director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University. On Friday, she was traveling from Chicago to Washington for a conference bringing together Israeli and Palestinian youth. Ahmad requested an unopened Diet Coke for hygienic reasons and was told that wasn't allowed because it might be used "as a weapon."
Ahmad pointed out that the flight attendant had given an unopened beer to another passenger, and the flight attendant quickly grabbed and opened the beer. According to Ahmad's Facebook post about the incident, a third passenger then yelled anti-Muslim sentiments at her while the other passengers stood by.
After Ahmad's story went public, United Airlines issued a statement saying there had been a "misunderstanding over a can of soda." Yes, that's right. An airline was dismissive of a passenger's complaints. Here's the statement:
Thank you for choosing United's particular brand of not caring. (via Facebook)
But as Ahmad wrote on Facebook, "This is not about a can of soda." It's about the everyday discrimination that she faces as a Muslim woman, and the double standards that make her life difficult. And, as she notes, it's particularly ironic that she was on her way to a conference promoting interethnic dialogue.
Clearly this flight attendant could use a crash course in interacting with people from different backgrounds. Or just a reminder to not be a dick.