Per the local CBS affiliate, two Muslim men, Abobakkr and Mohamad, were kicked off a flight in February for texting in Arabic. The two Muslim-American friends were taking a business trip from Seattle to San Fransico when another passenger saw their text messages and reported them as suspicious even though the person didn't speak the language.
The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations claims that the two men were then forced off the plane and questioned about the messages. The texts were translated to prove that they posed no security threat. Also, the Port of Seattle Police Department received a message from an airline manager claiming that "there was a misunderstanding ... there was no threat of any kind." Still, the two men were forced to undergo additional security and K-9 units were brought to sweep the plane. The men then had to take another flight to their destination following the disturbance.
"This is humiliation they had to endure at the hands of so many different levels of the chain of command," CAIR-WA’s executive director, Imraan Siddiqi, said.
"I think above and beyond all things what these gentlemen want is not just a refund and a formal apology," CAIR-WA’s legal and policy manager, Brianna Auffray, added. "Though those are things we are asking for. What they want to see is a systemic change because this came from what really appears to be a systemic issue in their threat response process."
Alaska Airlines released a statement explaining that it is aware of the situation and has launched an internal investigation.
"We’re sorry that two of our guests had such a distressing experience last February, when they were removed from their flight after a fellow passenger became concerned about the text messages his seatmate was sharing. Alaska Airlines strictly prohibits unlawful discrimination, and we take such complaints very seriously. Our greatest responsibility is to ensure that our flight operations are safe, and that was our goal on February 17th, as it is every day. We have launched an internal investigation of the incident to determine whether there were any missteps on our part, and are in contact with CAIR and the two guests"