Thursday, December 29, 2016


It’s becoming increasingly clear that US President-elect Donald Trump is in some ways softening the fiery rhetoric and terminology he’s been using in the election campaign that saw him to victory in a populist wave. He’s made attempts at conciliation, dropped the use of some of his loaded catchphrases, explained that his numerous biting remarks of the past were merely uttered to get more votes, and pretty much told his more literal and overzealous supporters to knock it off. Some of these Trump followers however haven’t quite gotten the memo, and the result of which is that the atmosphere of xenophobia cultivated by the Trump campaign continues to claim more hapless victims.

According to The New York Times, a couple of online stars on YouTube channels have been the latest to experience the side-effects of this climate of fear firsthand. On their way back to the US after a lengthy world tour, Muslim Americans Adam Saleh and Slim Albaher were boarding a Delta Airlines flight to New York City from London just this Wednesday December 21, when Saleh decided to call his mother to touch base and tell her their schedule. Unfortunately he conversed with her in Arabic over his cellphone, and then exchanged words with Albaher in the same manner. This action would have been innocuous before September 11, 2001 but in this day and age it led to the two being let off the aircraft by the flight captain.

Eyewitness accounts have it that the tension began when a woman passenger admonished Saleh and Albaher to speak English. From there the woman’s husband raised a louder protest demanding that the two be tossed out of the aircraft. Eventually other passengers around the two began expressing their own discomfort, until the captain himself came out and suggested that Saleh and Albaher disembark. With Saleh’s phone recording all the proceedings inside the passenger cabin, from the passenger’s jeering “goodbyes” and one dissenter’s attempt to defend them, the two YouTube stars got off and blitzed their footage online.

Delta Airlines was quick to stand by with their captain’s decision, claiming that testimonies from the passengers around Saleh and Albaher insist that they were causing a ruckus, something that the carrier frowns on regarding passenger behavior regardless of race or religion. Meanwhile thanks to Saleh’s large online following, the incident ignited another storm of indignation against Delta Airlines for racism.

Saleh’s story is not unique, as there has been a serious rash of incidents involving Muslim passengers being forced to disembark from flights due to passenger fears and outrage. This has earned the phrase “Flying While Muslim”, a contemporary version of the old “Driving While Black” distinction.

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