Two Muslim men are asking the Department of Transportation to investigate American Airlines and regional carrier Mesa Airlines after crew members on a Dallas-bound flight called the FBI on them.
The offense? According to Issam Abdallah, one of the men accusing the airlines of discrimination, crew members became suspicious of him after he “went to the restroom...and flushed twice.”
You read that right, Abdallah had the FBI sicced on him over a courtesy flush.
As Newsweek reports, Abdallah and Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh held a news conference last week about what happened on the Sept. 14 flight which departed from Birmingham, Ala. Both men are members of the city’s local Muslim community and were acquainted with each other, but were traveling separately at the time.
After the pair greeted each other on the plane, crew members announced to the cabin that the flight had been delayed. Abdallah used the restroom during the delay, only to walk out and find a flight attendant standing by the door “like she was eavesdropping.”
Afterward, passengers were informed the flight was canceled and they were to board another plane. As Abdallah and Alkhawaldeh disembarked with the rest of the cabin, FBI agents approached the two men, taking Abdallah to a private room to question him.
During the interview, the FBI agent revealed crew members had alerted law enforcement because they were “not comfortable flying” with him or Alkhawaldeh on board.
“The flight attendant reported that he went to the restroom and flushed the toilet twice,” Alkhawaldeh told CBS Dallas—Fort Worth. “The last time I know, flushing is allowed in this country.”
“It was the most humiliating day of my life,” said Abdallah at a Council for American-Islamic Relations-organized news conference. He added that he felt discriminated against for both his ethnicity and his religion.
American Airlines told BuzzFeed News in a statement that the flight was canceled “due to concerns raised by a crew member and a passenger” and was investigating the incident. The airline is no stranger to discrimination accusations, drawing an unprecedented travel warning from the NAACP in 2017 after a series of high-profile incidents affecting black passengers. The organization lifted the ban in 2018.
American Airlines said it reached out to Alkhawaldeh and Abdallah to “better understand their experience.”