Home / Top Story / Lawsuit claims flight ejected four men for looking Muslim

Lawsuit claims flight ejected four men for looking Muslim

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Monday, January 18, 2016, 4:00 AM

The four men were among six longtime pals who spent several days in Toronto this December.Aaron Showalter/for New York Daily News

The four men were among six longtime pals who spent several days in Toronto this December.

A flight attendant kicked four Brighton Beach men off a recent Toronto-to-New York flight for looking too Muslim – claiming their appearance made the captain uneasy, a new $ 9 million federal lawsuit alleges.

The four men were among six longtime pals who spent several days in Toronto this December.

They had originally booked different itineraries for their trip home, but decided to return on the same 2 p.m. American Airlines flight.

Shan Anand and Faimul Alam paid $ 75 to switch to the flight, which W.H. and M.K. had already booked.

W.H. and M.K. also changed their booking before boarding, paying $ 70 for an upgrade to business class. They were assigned seats in the first and third row, respectively.

After boarding, Alam and Anand switched seats with strangers, so they could sit next to each other.

Several minutes later, a white female flight attendant asked W.H. to get off the plane, the lawsuit, which will be filed Monday in Brooklyn federal court, alleges.

“I thought it was an evacuation or something, so I didn’t think nothing of it, but then she told me to take my bags and when I went back into the plane I saw I was the only one standing,” W.H., a fashion designer, told The News in an exclusive interview.

The flight attendant then asked M.K., who works as a construction worker, to leave.

Passengers surrounding Alam and Anand started making racist comments and clutching their children “as if something was going to happen,” the suit charges.

“Then we were asked to get our belongings to get off the aircraft,” said Alam, a general contractor who runs his own construction company.

Four of the six friends – two Bangladeshi, one Arab and one Punjabi – were all ordered to get off the flight.

The other two – who were Hispanic and Pakistani – were not kicked off, they claim.

“They were told to ‘Just be peaceful’ making it seem like they were a threat, making other passengers uncomfortable and wanting to get off the flight,” Tahanie Aboushi, who represents them, said.

When they exited, a jittery American Airlines agent told them they made the crew uncomfortable.

“She said the stewardess and the captain felt uneasy with us being on the flight,” W.H. said there were inconsistencies of our behavior traveling as a group because two of us upgraded and two of us didn’t.”

“They didn’t cite any basis of inappropriate or boisterous behavior, there situation wasn’t a security issue or threat,” charged Aboushi.”It’s my position that the reason they were taken off the flight is because this is blatant discrimination.”

M.K. asked the agent if they were thrown off because of their appearance. Alam has a darker complexion. W.H. has a beard. M.K., Alam, and W.H. are all Muslim.

Anand is a Sikh who wears a turban and a beard.

The agent said their appearance “did not help,” according to the suit.

The flight took off, leaving the four men behind.

The gate agent told them had to wait until the captain and crew of the next flight to agree to let them onboard, they claim.

“They said it was protocol,” said Anand, who works as a personal banker.

The captain of the flight Anand and Alam had originally booked agreed to take the four men to LaGuardia Airport.

“I’ve traveled many times and never thought this would happen to me. It never crossed my mind that I would ever feel discriminated against,” said W.H. who is reconsidering a trip to Amsterdam because of this experience. “I felt like a criminal,”

They are each seeking $ 1 million in compensatory damages and $ 5 million in punitive damages.

“We have no received the lawsuit yet, thus we cannot comment,” said Matt Miller, an American Airlines spokesman.

The men are also suing Republic Airlines and American Eagle, which were operating the plane under the banner of American Airlines. Republic and American Eagle could not immediately be reached for comment.


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