A female passenger on a United Airlines flight alleged she was a victim of discrimination, denied an unopened can of soda by a flight attendant. Tahera Ahmad said on Facebook the flight attendant served her an open can of Diet Coke, but when she asked for an unopened can, the attendant said it would not be possible to serve her an unopened soda can as it might be used as a weapon.
The 31-year-old director of interfaith engagement at Chicago’s Northwestern University was en route to Washington to attend a conference on promoting dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli youth. Tahera’s documentation of the incident immediately went viral.
Now there are pledges to take action against the airline by boycotting it. Tahera connected the incident with Islamophobia and hashtagged her post with #IslamophobiaISREAL. She gave further details of what had happened next to prove it was an Islamophobic incident.
Tahera, who was wearing a headscarf, told the flight attendant she was discriminating since the passenger in the adjacent seat had been served an unopened beer can. The flight attendant said the rule was specifically applicable to Tahera, indicating she was a Muslim.
When Tahera asked people around her if they had noticed the discrimination, a man sitting in across the aisle yelled at her. “He then leaned over from his seat, looked me straight in the eyes and said, 'Yes you know you would use it as a weapon so shut the f-- up,' " Tahera wrote on Facebook. “I felt the hate in his voice and his raging eyes. I can't help but cry on this plane because I thought people would defend me and say something.”
The Guardian reported Muslim activists called the incident “inexcusable” as they expressed their dismay on social media. Some users said they would boycott the airline.
CNN reported United spokesman Charles Hobart called the incident a “misunderstanding.” He said the flight attendant made several attempts to accommodate the passenger’s beverage request.