Arabic speakers ‘kicked off’ US plane

Media captionAdam Saleh says he was kicked off a Delta Airlines plane

A YouTube star’s video about his removal from a Delta Air Lines flight has gone viral across social media.

Adam Saleh told the BBC he was asked to get off the London-New York flight on Wednesday after speaking to his mother in Arabic on the phone.

He said a fellow passenger had expressed feeling uncomfortable.

Delta Air Lines confirmed that two customers were removed after a “disturbance” and said it would investigate the report.

The incident is said to have taken place while the plane was still at Heathrow airport, and also involved Mr Saleh’s friend.

Mr Saleh said: “This lady screamed, ‘what is he saying?’ and said she felt uncomfortable.

“The captain came and asked what happened.

“I was so disgusted I took a video as I was being asked to leave,” he added.

‘I just froze’

US airline Delta released a statement on its website saying “more than 20 customers” expressed their discomfort. It is unclear whether they were referring to the Arabic speaking, or the disturbance that followed.

“We take all allegations of discrimination seriously and we are gathering all of the facts before jumping to any conclusion,” the statement said.

It continued, “Maintaining a safe, comfortable and orderly onboard environment is paramount for every flight and requires the co-operation of all of our customers.”

Mr Saleh said he later boarded a different flight with a different company.

“Once we were off the [Delta Airlines] plane, we were told it was because we were being loud. You don’t just kick someone off for being loud!” said Mr Saleh.

Mr Saleh’s friend, Slim Albaher, who was also escorted off the plane, said: “I just froze. It was like something you’d only see in the movies.”

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Image caption

A selection of Adam Saleh’s past YouTube videos

Mr Saleh is well-known for carrying out pranks, which he posts on YouTube.

Earlier this month, he claimed to have hidden in a suitcase and travelled from Melbourne to Sydney in the hold. It was later exposed as a hoax.

Mr Saleh has also filmed a number of experiments to see how plane passengers respond to flying alongside Muslims.

Numerous Arabic speakers have reported being questioned, or made to leave planes, and felt it was because their race or assumptions about their religion.

London pastor Olaolu Opebiyi was removed from an easyJet plane in March, after a passenger spotted a “prayer on his phone” and reported him as a security threat.

An Iraqi university student in California said he was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight in the US after having a conversation in Arabic in April.

Faizah Shaheen, a Muslim from Leeds, was detained by UK airport police under terror laws in August, after she was spotted reading a book on Syrian culture during her honeymoon flight.

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TWITTER

Delta Airlines has in the past been accused of racism.

In October, Tamika Cross, a black doctor, said her credentials were questioned when she tried to help a patient on an internal US flight.

Earlier this week, the airline announced it had investigated the doctor’s “unfortunate encounter”, and would be changing its policy and training as a result.

Mr Saleh’s many followers picked up his Delta Airlines story, and in just three hours his video had more than 120,000 retweets and five million views on Facebook.

Soon after the Heathrow incident, the hashtag #BoycottDelta was trending in London and his updates on Twitter were getting lots of shares.

Compiled by Sherie Ryder, UGC and Social Media team

Arabic speakers ‘kicked off’ US plane}

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