Southwest Airlines apologises to Muslim woman for being thrown off flight

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 18, 2011 06:30 hrs

Southwest Airlines has publicly apologised to a Muslim woman, who was thrown off a flight at San Diego International Airport, California, because she was wearing an Islamic headscarf and one of the crew thought her behaviour was 'suspicious'.

Irum Abassi, 31, a mother of three children, felt she was discriminated against because she was wearing the headscarf.

"I've got to go because the plane was about to take off. I was in tears. I was just crying. I have lived in the United States for 10 years. I am a U.S. citizen," the Daily Mail quoted Abassi, a graduate student in experimental psychology, as telling on Thursday.

The San Jose State University student believes the incident was the direct result of controversial hearings called by Senator Peter King on the radicalisation of American Muslims.

"They weren't even sure what I said. I said 'I've got to go', because the plane was about to take off. 'My question was, 'Did I do something wrong?' And they said, Uh, the flight attendant thinks that you are suspicious," she said.

Southwest Airlines later gave her a voucher for another flight and apologised again over the phone.

"The verbal apology: doesn't make me feel better. This time, they said we weren't comfortable with the headscarf. Next time, they won't be comfortable with my accent or they won't be comfortable with my South Asian heritage," she said.

Abassi, who originally hails from Pakistan, was ordered off the plane on Sunday morning. She was returning to the city to carry out a research project for her thesis. (ANI)

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