SHAFAQNA- An Arab-American Muslim woman says she was discriminated against on a Delta flight to Detroit, Monday, after a confrontation with another passenger led an airline employee to make her change seats.
The other passenger allegedly told Darlene Hider, who wears a headscarf (hijab), “This is America.”
“I wear a hijab, I am a Muslim, and I am tired of having to act differently to prove to people that I am an American,” said Hider, who recounted the story to Mashable.
Hider was traveling home from a family vacation in Florida with her four children and her husband, Dr. Malik Hider. The family was flying on a Delta plane to Detroit. Two of her children were seated next to her, and her 9-month-old was on her lap,
According to Hider, while people were still boarding the plane, the woman in front of her turned around and asked her to “control her kids.”
“I automatically felt as if she was not comfortable around me, and this is really difficult to deal with as a Muslim woman in America.”
Hider recounted that the woman finally turned to her and said, “This is America!” Her husband overheard the conversation and told the woman to turn around before a ticket agent allegedly intervened. Hider says she was shaken and was approached by a Delta ticket agent, who was onboard the flight helping passengers. Hider says she asked her, “What’s the problem!?”
After listening to what the mother had to say, the Delta agent directed her to “get your kids and change seats” and threatened to kick the family off of the plane says Hider.
While there is no video of the initial encounter with the other passenger, this video shows a ticket agent pointing her finger at the man, identified as Darlene’s husband. In the footage, the Delta employee can be seen pointing Hider with a raised voice and says, “I am fixing the problem.”
“Not only did I feel belittled by the passenger, now I am being spoken down to and scolded by a Delta ticket agent,” said Hider. “I was afraid to defend myself because of my scarf, at that moment, I felt that I couldn’t defend myself…I felt stripped away of all of my rights at this moment.”
Hider said that when her plane arrived in Detroit, she was met by two Delta representatives who told her the company would be looking into the incident. Delta also confirmed this part of the story and said they are investigating.
“We have had contact with the customer to offer an apology and we have left that door open,” said Morgan Durant, a spokesperson for Delta. “Obviously we don’t condone any discrimination here at Delta.”
The incident first came to Delta’s attention while Hider was still onboard the flight, as her brother Abed Ayoub was tweeting information sent to him by Hider’s husband. Ayoub is a lawyer with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and his initial tweet was retweeted thousands of times.