Washington: An influential South-Asian rights group has terminated its ties with a major US airlines alleging that it was carrying out racial and religious profiling of Muslims, Arab and South-Asian passengers on its flights.
"Southwest (Airlines) employees have been racially profiling Muslim, Arab, and South Asian passengers in the last year, including at least five well-publicised incidents," South-Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said yesterday.
"One well-covered incident involved kicking a University of California Berkley student off a flight in April 2016 for saying 'Inshallah' to his father on the phone," it said.
"Because the airline has treated our communities like second-class citizens, we have terminated our relationship with Southwest," SAALT said, adding that as a result of this termination it has lost USD 10,000 in grant money from the airlines.
SAALT and our partners sent multiple communications to Southwest, including to CEO Gary Kelly, over the last year expressing our concerns.
"Disappointingly, all we received was one unsatisfactory response after another," said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT.
"Southwest made it clear they would issue no apology to the affected passengers nor would it address profiling in their corporate training guidelines and complaint procedures," Raghunathan said.
"In short, we saw no effort by Southwest Airlines to establish protection against racial and religious profiling of passengers on its flights. The airline continues to deflect any responsibility for its actions, even as the level of hostility against our communities continues to increase nationwide. So we said 'enough!' and goodbye to Southwest," she said.