Port Authority’s Inspector General is launching an investigation into the removal of Muslim activist Amani al-Khatahtbeh from an American Airlines flight following a dispute with another passenger in Newark, N.J.
Al-Khatahtbeh, 28, who ran an unsuccessful Democratic primary for a New Jersey congressional seat, refused to get off a Charlotte-bound flight Saturday after being asked to by flight attendants and the pilot, officials said.
Al-Khatahtbeh live-streamed the event as flight personnel Port Authority police ordered everyone else off the plane so that she could be taken into custody.
The Muslim activist said she was wrongfully singled out following a dispute with a White man.
“They would rather do this than remove one person from first class because he complained about a Muslim woman on the plane,” Al-Khatahtbeh, editor in chief of the blog Muslimgirl.com, says as she records other disgruntled passengers picking up their belongings and exiting the plane.
“He’s f—— up everyone else’s day because of his entitlement, his White privilege,” Al-Khatahtbeh says.
Al-Khatahtbeh said the argument began when the first-class passenger cut in front of her in a TSA pre-check line.
“He forced himself in front of me and said, ‘I’m first class, I’m pre-check I shouldn’t have to wait behind you’ and because I recorded the entire thing he said I was harassing him,” she says in the recording, later posted to Facebook. “Because I was recording him being a f—— piece of sh—.”
They continued their argument on the plane. As the two took their seats, the man allegedly told flight attendants al-Khatahtbeh harassed him and he “didn’t feel safe,” a law enforcement source close to the incident told the New York Daily News.
Al-Khatahtbeh is asked to get off the plane, but she refuses unless the first-class passenger also is asked to leave, according to video posted to Twitter by another traveler.
“I am not moving unless he is also moving,” she is heard telling the officer. “Otherwise, why are you taking his word over mine? Because he is in first class? If you are kicking me off, you have to kick both of us.”
Police charged al-Khatahtbeh with delaying transportation and defiant trespass after refusing orders to leave the plane.
Civil rights group Council on American-Islamic relations demanded al-Khatahtbeh’s immediate release Saturday, alleging the activist was “handcuffed and arrested after American Airlines ejected her from a flight allegedly at the prompting of a male passenger who harassed her.”
“Although we do not yet know all of the facts about this incident, we do know that American Airlines has a history of mistreating Muslim travelers,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement.
“The airline must immediately explain why it singled out Amani by contacting the police and ejecting her from a flight based on the word of a man who had allegedly harassed her.”