SAALT, CAIR Condemn Southwest Airlines’ Racial and Religious Profiling of Muslim Professor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), joined 30 oth­er nation­al and local civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions,* includ­ing the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR), in con­demn­ing South­west Air­lines’ treat­ment of a preg­nant Mus­lim-Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor, Ani­la Daulatzai, in Sep­tem­ber.

In a let­ter sent to South­west Air­lines and the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Author­i­ty Police (MDTA) on Octo­ber 19, 2017, the coali­tion of civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions wrote in part:

“Our orga­ni­za­tions are appalled at the mis­treat­ment of Ani­la Daulatzai by South­west Air­lines and the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Author­i­ty Police (MDTA). We sup­port Ms. Daulatzai’s demands and call for changes in pol­i­cy and prac­tice on the part of South­west Air­lines and the MDTA.

“Com­mu­ni­ties of col­or unfor­tu­nate­ly endure pro­fil­ing at air­ports and on air­lines on a reg­u­lar basis. In fact, Mus­lim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh pas­sen­gers have expe­ri­enced a dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly high lev­el of dis­crim­i­na­tion in the 16 years since Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. ‘Fly­ing while brown’ means that pas­sen­gers are often sub­ject­ed to sec­ondary screen­ings, inter­ro­ga­tions, bod­i­ly search­es, and removal from air­planes for no legit­i­mate rea­son at all.

“Ani­la Daulatzai, a preg­nant woman who is a Pak­istani Amer­i­can and a Mus­lim, is the lat­est per­son to face this type of air­line dis­crim­i­na­tion. In her case, South­west Air­lines staff insist­ed that Daulatzai deplane her flight because of a dog aller­gy even though she had made it clear that her aller­gies were not life-threat­en­ing. Instead of believ­ing Daulatzai’s own state­ments about her phys­i­cal con­di­tions, South­west Air­lines per­son­nel chose to esca­late the sit­u­a­tion by alert­ing the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Author­i­ty Police (MDTA). Accord­ing to Daulatzai, MDTA law enforce­ment agents pulled her from her seat via her belt loop, tore her pants, and dragged her through the aisle. They then alleged­ly made racist remarks about immi­grants and charged her with dis­or­der­ly con­duct and oth­er crim­i­nal charges.

“Ms. Daulatzai’s mis­treat­ment by South­west Air­lines is part of a pat­tern and prac­tice of pro­fil­ing. Between 2015 and 2016, over a peri­od of just six months, sev­er­al Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian pas­sen­gers report­ed inci­dents of being rebooked for their appear­ance, removed from a flight for speak­ing in Ara­bic in a pri­vate phone con­ver­sa­tion or sim­ply for ask­ing to switch seats.

“We call upon the MDTA to drop the crim­i­nal charges against Ms. Daulatzai. We also call
upon both the MDTA and South­west Air­lines to pro­vide ade­quate and appro­pri­ate
resti­tu­tion to Ms. Daulatzai. In addi­tion, we demand that both the MDTA and South­west
Air­lines make sys­temic changes to their poli­cies and pro­to­cols. We call upon both enti­ties
to dis­close their pro­to­cols for respond­ing to pas­sen­ger-relat­ed sit­u­a­tions aboard flights,
includ­ing their train­ings and prac­tices around de-esca­la­tion and medi­a­tion tac­tics. We
con­tin­ue to demand that South­west Air­lines train­ing poli­cies be dis­closed pub­licly, and
that per­son­nel at all lev­els be pro­vid­ed with manda­to­ry and reg­u­lar train­ings on con­flict
res­o­lu­tion, de-esca­la­tion tac­tics, anti-Black­ness, Islam­o­pho­bia, and anti-racism. We call
upon the MDTA to engage in reg­u­lar train­ings on Islam­o­pho­bia, sys­temic racism,
xeno­pho­bia, anti-Black­ness, and implic­it bias.”

*Sig­na­to­ries:

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)
Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR)
18MillionRising.org
Advo­cates for Youth
Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee (ADC)
Andolan: Orga­niz­ing South Asian Work­ers
Asian Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion
Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice – Asian Law Cau­cus
Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice – Atlanta
Asian Amer­i­cans Advanc­ing Jus­tice – LA
Chhaya CDC
Defend­ing Rights & Dis­sent
Islam­ic Soci­ety of Boston Cul­tur­al Cen­ter
Jew­ish Voice for Peace — Net­work Against Islam­o­pho­bia
Jews Say No!
Kiran, Inc.
MPow­er Change
Maitri
Mus­lim Youth Net­work
Mus­lim­mat­ters
Nation­al Kore­an Amer­i­can Ser­vice & Edu­ca­tion Con­sor­tium (NAKASEC)
Nation­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Fam­i­lies Against Sub­stance Abuse (NAPAFASA)
Nation­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
Nation­al Coali­tion for Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Devel­op­ment (CAPACD)
Nation­al Net­work for Arab Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ties (NNAAC)
Nation­al Orga­ni­za­tion for Women
Nation­al Reli­gious Cam­paign Against Tor­ture (NRCAT)
Project South
Rak­sha, Inc.
Sap­na NYC
Turn­ing Point for Women and Fam­i­lies

Last year, in response to numer­ous inci­dents of pro­fil­ing against our com­mu­ni­ties on South­west Air­lines flights, SAALT and our part­ners sent mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ca­tions to South­west, includ­ing to CEO Gary Kel­ly, express­ing con­cerns with their pat­tern and prac­tice of racial­ly pro­fil­ing pas­sen­gers. Dis­ap­point­ing­ly, all we received was one unsat­is­fac­to­ry response after anoth­er. As a result, SAALT ter­mi­nat­ed its 7‑year rela­tion­ship with South­west and gave back $10,000 in grant fund­ing. SAALT and our part­ners will con­tin­ue to hold South­west account­able until our com­mu­ni­ties are treat­ed with dig­ni­ty and equal­i­ty.

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States. Our ulti­mate vision is dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all.

CONTACT: Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org