Muslim Men Removed From Memphis Flight For No Rational Reason

Call it the legacy of Osama bin Laden:

Two Muslim religious leaders who were removed from a commercial airliner in Memphis say they were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard.

Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul were supposed to travel on an 8:30 a.m. Delta flight, run by a subsidiary, from Memphis, Tenn. to Charlotte. They were traveling to attend a conference of the North American Imam Federation that, ironically, intends to address prejudice against Muslims.

Rahman, who is from India, and Zaghloul, Egyptian-born, were both dressed in traditional long shirts and have beards in keeping with Muslim tradition. Rahman said he and Zaghloul were screened in the security line and again at the gate Friday before they were allowed to board their Delta Connection flight to Charlotte.

After the plane started taxiing, he said the pilot announced the flight was headed back to the gate. Both men were removed from the plane, and screened again.

“We were very cooperative,” he said Friday. “I say, ‘It is okay.’ They checked our luggage. They checked our everything.”

“Every person–not only me–every person, should allow to check his luggage,” Rahman said. “We are living in America. We want the security of America.”

After that security check, he said a Delta employee at the gate informed him that the pilot of the flight would not allow him on board. He says the employees in the airport were very apologetic–even angry–and said they tried repeatedly to convince the pilot that he was wrong.

Rahman said he was even told that the gate agents asked the passengers if they felt uncomfortable about the two Muslim men, and reported back to the pilot that the people on board the plane were not concerned

One can only hope that the pilot is appropriate disciplined for an action that had nothing to do with the safety of his airplane, and everything to do with prejudice.


FILED UNDER: Religion, Terrorism, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. John Burgess says:

    That’s pretty bone-headed all right. I wonder if the pilot had a dream or his wife ran the Ouija board into overdrive the night before.

  2. Southern Hoosier says:

    A passenger on board the flight told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that, upon arrival in Charlotte, the pilot said the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is in charge of airport security, had requested that the plane return to the terminal. He also said he did not notice discomfort among the passengers.

    TSA officials say its agents escorted the men off the plane and searched the area around their seats, but that the airline, not TSA, had not initiated the extra screening.
    Another he said, she said.
    Is the airline the same as the pilot?

  3. Tano says:

    Was Juan Williams on the flight?

  4. matt says:

    What you posted makes little sense with what appears to be a nearly triple negative…

  5. anjin-san says:

    One can only hope that the pilot is appropriate disciplined for an action that had nothing to do with the safety of his airplane, and everything to do with prejudice.

    He will probably become a star on the right wing talk how/lecture circuit.

  6. john personna says:

    I guess the sad thing about this is that (a) I find it totally unsurprising, and (b) I have no hope for improvement.

    We aren’t proving ourselves to be a real rational, or a real honorable, people.

  7. Bill H. says:

    Sometimes, being an American simply embarrasses me.