Target: Delta Air Lines CEO Richard H. Anderson
Goal: Demand an apology for the treatment of a Muslim family harassed by passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight.
After a disagreement with another passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight, a Muslim woman claims that a flight attendant told her to change seats. The woman, Darlene Hider, wears a hijab as part of her religion, and said that another passenger harassed her and said, “This is America,” in reference to her wearing a hijab. The husband of the other passenger reportedly told her to turn around before a Delta employee intervened. After asking Hider and her family what the problem was, the employee directed the family to change seats, allegedly threatening to kick them off the plane if they didn’t comply. Part of the exchange with the Delta employee was caught on video.
Though Delta may have been moving Hider’s family to get them away from the situation, the way this problem was handled is inexcusable. The passenger who instigated the argument should have been moved, not Hider’s family—the other passenger was showing obvious prejudice in trying to pick a fight over Hider’s hijab. Discrimination against Muslim people is a rampant problem in America, despite the fact that, in 2010, over 2.5 million American citizens follow Islam. Hider and her family are American citizens, making the other passenger’s “This is America” remark doubly insulting—as an American, Hider was using her constitutional right to free expression of religion.
The bias with which this situation was handled is emblematic of the Islamophobia many Americans of Muslim faith face on a daily basis. Rather than threatening to remove the Muslim family from the plane, the Delta employee should have punished the woman who harassed Hider’s family. Ask Delta Air Lines’ CEO to apologize not only to the family affected, but to the Muslim community for the employee’s handling of the situation, and to pursue diversity training for Delta’s employees to prevent this from happening again.
Dear Mr. Anderson,
A Muslim woman was recently harassed by a passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight because she was wearing a headscarf. When a flight attendant intervened, the Muslim woman and her family were asked to move seats and told they would have to leave the plane if they did not comply.
While the attendant may have been trying to get the family away from a bad situation, changing seats should have been the responsibility of the woman that started the argument, not the family that was the target of their prejudiced attacks. Muslim people face daily discrimination in America, and punishing this family contributes to the unwelcoming atmosphere these people—who are Americans—feel in their own country.
Please make a formal apology not only to the family that was affected, but also to the Muslim community as a whole, and pursue diversity training to help employees form better relationships with passengers of all races and religions. An airline should be a safe and welcoming place for people from all walks of life. As CEO of Delta Air Lines, your word would mean a lot to the community.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gietje via Wikimedia Commons