Tahera Ahmad, a Muslim woman employed as Director of Interfaith Engagement / Associate Chaplain at Northwestern University in Chicago, US, claims that last week she was denied an unopened can of soda while on a United Airlines flight on the grounds that she could use it as a weapon.
In a Facebook post, the woman accuses United Airlines of blatant discrimination as she insists that she alone was told unopened beverage cans posed a threat and so could not be offered to passengers.
A man sitting next to her, however, was brought an unopened can of beer. When Tahera Ahmad asked how come she couldn't get an unopened can of soda, the flight attended allegedly served her the explanation about how they couldn't give people anything that might be used as a weapon.
“She said, ‘We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a WEAPON on the plane.’ So I told her that she was clearly discriminating against me because she gave the man next to me an unopened can of beer.
“She looked at his can, quickly grabbed it and opened it and said, ‘It's so you don't use it as a weapon,’” Tahera Ahmad wrote in her Facebook post accusing Chicago-based United Airlines of discrimination.
As for the other passengers' take on the entire affair, the Muslim woman says that the majority remained seated and pretended not to notice what was happening. One man did turn to her, but it was only to tell her to quit whining, drink whatever the airline had given her and shut up.
In a statement posted on its website Saturday, May 30, United Airlines insists that the entire affair was a misunderstanding. Flight attendants did their best to tend to Tahera Ahmad's requests and the woman was never discriminated against, the airline says.
Further, United Airlines claims that, shortly after the woman's plane had landed, the crew met with her to listen to her complaints and discuss what had upset her during the flight. Although it is yet to admit fault, the airline has apologized to Tahera Ahmad for not getting her the soda can she wanted.