Delta Air Lines is headed into controversial headwinds after removing a Muslim-American YouTube prankster, who claimed he was only speaking Arabic on a phone call with his mother, from a flight.
After YouTube star Adam Saleh posted a video of his removal from a flight, social media lit up with calls for an inquiry or a boycott. He later tweeted that he would meet with his lawyer after landing in New York City.
A Delta spokesperson referred inquiries seeking comment to the company’s online newsroom.
However, many social media users greeted the incident with a healthy dose of skepticism. Saleh last week staged a video of himself being "smuggled aboard" a Tigerair Australia Flight and he posted a faux social experiment about racial profiling two years ago.
That earlier incident was met swiftly with censure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group’s national communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, said Wednesday that the video "could be a ‘boy who cried wolf situation.’"
Last year, a Delta employee threatened to remove a Muslim family aboard a Detroit-bound flight, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee after a passenger bothered the family over the mother’s head covering.
Hooper added CAIR was looking into the situation and bemoaned the lack of information available, including "fairly vague statement[s]" put out by Delta.
Delta issued two public statements on its website, the first explaining it had removed two customers and rebooked them after more than 20 customers expressed discomfort and a full review is underway.
"We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect," the statement said.
The second statement reiterated that "maintaining a safe, comfortable, and orderly onboard environment is paramount" and that "requires the cooperation of all of our customers."
"This is a Delta policy and is required by U.S. regulations as well as others governing aviation worldwide," it added.
An emailed statement from Adam Saleh’s management team said the YouTube celebrity was not available for comment, but included a statement that thanked the public for their "support and effort in raising awareness."