Today happened something really unacceptable in my opinion and hard to comprehend. It is one of those things that makes European Muslims scared to travel to the USA.
Sister Tahera Ahmad was flying with United Airlines when she asked for a diet coke. The air hostess brought to her an opened diet coke and she requested for hygienic reasons if she can give her an unopened can. The air hostess replied that she can’t give her unopened can even though she did to the passenger next to her because it might be used as a weapon. You can read her Facebook statement for the full information.
I have flown quite a fair share of flights with hijab on and I have to say I have never encountered such a bad behaviour. I am not even sure how I will react if this happened to me. I have had extra security checks since I started wearing hijab (headscarf) but I understand that people are doing their job and most officers are excellent and cordial. I have had looks from passengers on the plane but once we start talking and break the ice they seem to relax. Unfortunately it seems that islamophobia is real in many parts of the world and this does make me sad.
However this behaviour is unacceptable to any human being from any religion. I can assure you that majority of Muslims are peaceful people who have jobs and families like any other human and we don’t want to be blown on planes or other methods of transportation. We don’t endorse what some people are doing in the name of “Islam”. It is against the teachings and in all the books I have read, even during my Masters in Islamic finance, Islam has supported peace and equality.
United hasn’t given an official statement other than this. But I have to say that me and many Muslims and non-Muslims will not fly United for very long time. It’s a shame that in the 21st century we lose our compassion and tolerance towards being different.
What would be your reaction if something like this happened to you?
Update: United Airlines has apologised publicly to sister Tahera, so unopened cans can be given out. 🙂 You can read here
P.S. I know from friends who know sister Tahera that she is of excellent character and involved in a lot of charity work and cross cultural dialogues so it is unlikely that this story is a lie.