Two Muslim American YouTube stars were escorted off a US airline in London after several British passengers complained when one of them spoke Arabic to his mother on the phone.
Adam Saleh, 23, an Internet personality, and his friend Slim Albaher, 22, were returning home to New York City on Wednesday when they were asked by the captain of the Delta flight to leave the plane at Heathrow Airport.
Saleh said several passengers voiced their support for him while others approved of his removal from the plane. The passengers who were on the flight when it landed in New York confirmed the men’s story.
Saleh posted a video of the incident on Twitter. The news was met on social media with anger at the airline industry.
“You guys are racist. I cannot believe my eyes,” Saleh shouts in the video as he describes the confrontation. “Six white people against us bearded men.”
“This is 2016. 2016. Look, Delta Air Lines are kicking us out because we spoke a different language,” he says in the video.
He can be seen asking one his fellow passengers: “I spoke a word [of Arabic], and you said you feel uncomfortable?”
After an hours-long delay involving more security checks, Saleh said he was finally able to board a flight to New York with a different airline.
However, he said he would seek legal counsel to file charges against the airline.
In August, Delta removed a Muslim American couple travelling from Paris, France to Cincinnati, Ohio, after a flight attendant complained of feeling uncomfortable with them on board.
Incidents of Muslims and Arabs being asked to leave planes have increased in recent months amid rising Islamophobia in the West, according to advocacy groups.
“More and more reports have been made of Muslims or Arabs, or people who were perceived to be Muslim or Arabs, who were removed from planes by airline personnel,” said Zainab Chaudry, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the United States’ largest Muslim civil rights group.
There has been a spate of hate crimes targeting Muslims and other minorities in the US after the election of President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump won the US presidency despite extreme unpopularity among minorities, underscoring deep national divisions that have fuelled incidents of racial and political confrontation across the country.