‘No Diet Coke for you’: Islamophobia at 30,000 feet leads to viral United Airlines boycott – The Guardian
What happens when you ask for an unopened can of Diet Coke on an airplane? If you’re a Muslim woman, according to one report, you don’t get served.
And the man sitting next to you gets an unopened can of beer just fine.
Tahera Ahmad, a Muslim chaplain at Chicago’s Northwestern University, documented these allegations from onboard a United Airlines flight this weekend in an episode that almost immediately went viral – and led to pledges to boycott the airline.
On her Facebook page, Ahmad claimed a flight attendant was “clearly discriminating against me” after she asked for an unopened of soda for hygienic reasons and says was told, “Well, I’m sorry. I just can’t give you an unopened can, so no Diet Coke for you.”
When the man next to her allegedly got an unopened beer can from the in-flight service, Ahmad said she was told something even more inflammatory: “We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people, because they may use it as a WEAPON on the plane.”
Ahmad said her fellow passengers were of no help: “you Moslem, you need to shut the F** up,” Ahmad said, in the Facebook post, that she was told by another male passenger across the aisle. “[y]es you know you would use it as a WEAPON, so shut the F** up.”
Ahmad did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but Muslim activists took to social media to call the alleged incident an “inexcusable” act of bigotry as other social media users said they would boycott United Airlines based on what they interpreted as open discrimination.
United Airlines spokesman Charles Hobart told the Guardian that the airline was attempting to contact Ahmad in order to “get a better understanding of what occurred during the flight”.
Hobart also said United was discussing the alleged incident with Shuttle America, United’s regional partner that operated the flight.
Republic Airways, which owns Shuttle America, did not respond to a request for comment on its beverage policy. Federal Aviation Administration policy forbids carrying on unopened alcoholic beverages but does not appear to have a specific “unopened can” regulation.
Ahmad told the Chicago Sun-Times that she received an apology from the flight attendant on behalf of herself and the other passenger, saying that the United employee had “acknowledged it was unethical and said he never should have said anything”.
The story of Islamophobia at 30,000 feet went viral just hours after an anti-Islam protest in Phoenix drew global attention following a lethal incident in Texas earlier this month.