December 3, 2020

Airlines

A Muslim activist and blogger was charged Saturday with trespass and delaying transportation after she argued with a fellow passenger aboard an American Airlines jet in Newark.

The Port Authority’s inspector general has launched a probe of the incident involving Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, officials said.

Al-Khatahtbeh, 28 — who pulled 2.8% of the vote in a Democratic primary for a New Jersey Congressional seat in July — refused to disembark when asked to do so by both flight attendants and the pilot of the Charlotte, N.C.-bound Airbus A319 jet, said officials.

She livestreamed as flight personnel and Port Authority police ordered everyone off the plane so they could take her into custody.

“They would rather do this than remove one person from first class because he complained about a Muslim woman on the plane,” Al-Khatahtbeh, editor in chief of the blog Muslimgirl.com, said as she recorded other passengers grumbling as they picked up their belongings and headed toward the door.

“He’s f—— up everyone else’s day because of his entitlement, his white privilege,” Al-Khatahtbeh said.

The incident happened around 9:55 a.m., just before the plane was to leave the gate.

Al-Khatahtbeh said in her livestream that the first-class passenger jumped in front of her at the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint line, sparking an argument.

“He forced himself in front of me and said, ‘I’m first class, I’m pre-check I shouldn’t have to wait behind you’ and because I recorded the entire thing he said I was harassing him,” she said. “Because I was recording him being a f—— piece of sh—.”

The argument continued on the flight, officials said. As they took their seats, the man told flight attendants Al-Khatahtbeh had harassed him and that “he didn’t feel safe,” a law enforcement source with knowledge of the incident said.

Al-Khatahtbeh was asked to disembark, but she refused unless the first class passenger was also asked to leave, video posted by another traveler on Twitter shows.

“I am not moving unless he is also moving,” she told the officer. “Otherwise why are you taking his word over mine? Because he is in first class? If you are kicking me off you have to kick both of us.”

Officials emptied the plane. Al-Khatahtbeh made sure she was the last to leave. When she did, she was taken into custody by Port Authority police.

“Had to get off my flight because a man asked a Muslim woman to get off the plane. @AmericanAir employees followed his request and gave the woman no explanation,” wrote Twitter user Jake, who posted a recording of Al-Khatahtbeh complaining to flight personnel.

Cops charged Al-Khatahtbeh with delaying transportation and defiant trespass for refusing repeated orders to leave the plane. She was later released, officials said.

“The Port Authority’s independent Inspector General has begun an investigation,” the agency said in a statement.

The first class passenger was not arrested, but it was not immediately clear if he was allowed back on the flight. The rest of the passengers were allowed

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