Should we reconsider who we are removing from airplanes?

Mandi Gosling

A pilot for a Delta Airlines connection carrier had two prominent Muslim leaders removed from a flight last week because he felt they were making the other passengers uncomfortable.

Coincidentally, the imams were on their way to a conference about Islamaphobia in North Carolina. Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul, both dressed in traditional Islamic clothing, had already passed multiple security checks before boarding the plane.

The pilot taxied the plane to the runway but then returned to the gate. The imams got off the plane, complied with additional security screenings but still the pilot refused to let them back on the plane.

Rahman, a professor at the University of Memphis, likened their situation to that of Rosa Parks during the civil rights movement. He told reporters, “That history I found today in that plane, and it shouldn’t happen with any other person.”

Parks was, at the very least, allowed to sit on the bus, whereas these imams were not even afforded that dignity. Few people today would say she should have moved to the back of the bus to make people more comfortable, but many people argue they are justified in feeling uncomfortable sharing a plane with TSA security-cleared Muslims.

So should those who are comfortable or uncomfortable be removed from the plane?