Muslim leaders sue Delta for discrimination - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Muslim leaders sue Delta for discrimination

(WMC-TV) – Two Muslim clerics who were booted off a Memphis flight while on their way to an Islamophobia conference are now suing Delta Airlines, but the men said they only want three things from the company.

The lawsuit is gaining national attention and the clerics said their goal is to prevent future racial profiling in U.S. airports.

"It was really very offensive for us - the humiliation," said Imam Masudur Rahman, an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis.

Rahman described the day a Delta pilot booted him and Imam Mohamed Zaghloul from their flight as they headed to an Islamophobia conference in May.

"We were singled out based on our appearance," he said.

Monday, the men's attorneys held a news conference near the Delta terminal at Memphis International Airport to announce a lawsuit against the airline.

"It is unacceptable and unconstitutional to discriminate against passengers based upon how they look," said attorney Mo Idlibby, of the United Firm of Carolina Law.

Attorneys said the clerics were wearing spiritual garb and after two security checks, the men boarded the flight to Charlotte. The plane then returned to the gate where they were subjected to a body search. Meanwhile, the pilot left without them.

When TSA cleared the Imams, Delta demanded the pilot return to the gate. But still, the pilot refused to let the Imams back on board.

A coalition of local Christian and Jewish leaders stood by the clerics at Monday's news conference.

"Dr. King had a dream that his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character," said Pastor Steve Stone, Ph.D., of Heart Song Church. "That is an American virtue."

"As a Jew, I cannot stand idly by while Muslim Americans are being targeted," said Rabbi Micah Greenstein, of Temple Israel.

The lawsuit has three demands: that Delta pay a financial penalty which would be determined at trial, that employees be trained in tolerance, and that an injunction is ordered prohibiting people from being detained based on their appearance.

Atlantic Southeast Airlines was also named in the lawsuit because they're the partner airline that actually flew the Imams.

Delta released a statement saying "Atlantic Southeast and Delta oppose discrimination in any form from any source and our employees act at all times in the best interest of passenger safety and security. We cannot comment further on pending litigation."

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