Mehdi Hasan is a key “Islamophobia” propagandist; he has many times propagated the idea that Muslims are subjected to routine discrimination and harassment in the U.S. What a coincidence that his wife would become a victim of “Islamophobia”!
But “the nightmare incident,” as The Sun called it, took place on a recent Southwest Airlines flight from Houston to Washington, D.C., when Hasan and his hijab-wearing wife were innocently returning home for Thanksgiving.
Hasan’s wife – “a mum,” as The Sun reminds us – “was left in tears when she was told that she’ll be ‘escorted off the plane’ — all allegedly because she wanted to sit with her family.”
Oh, the “Islamophobia”! The whole thing started, as Hasan explained in a series of tweets, when his wife “politely” asked another passenger to switch seats with her so that she could sit with her family. This was an eminently reasonable request, given Southwest’s free-for-all seating policy.
But according to Mehdi, his wife’s soft-spoken, polite request was received with scorn, and worse than scorn. He tweeted: “Hey [Southwest Airlines]: not a good look for your flight attendant on SW5539 to DC last night to loudly tell a brown woman in a headscarf she’ll be ‘escorted off the plane’ for making people feel ‘uncomfortable’ – because she wanted to sit with her husband & kids!”
According to Hasan, “The flight attendant called ground staff onto the plane, complained about the Muslim woman – my wife! – to them, & escalated rather than de-escalated the situation – simply because my wife politely asked a guy if he’d give up his seat for our family (which he was fine with!).”
The flight attendant’s behavior was so egregious, Hasan continued, that “even her own [Southwest Airlines] colleague from the ground staff who came onboard to check things wondered why the flight attendant wouldn’t shut up and let things go so we could take off. ‘Why is she escalating this?’ a passenger from across the aisle also asked aloud. Why indeed. The [Southwest Airlines] flight attendant ‘treated you like a venomous snake, another passenger told my wife after we landed in DC last night.”
Hasan concluded with the certainty that this was a racially- and religiously-motivated “hate” incident: “Thanks [Southwest Airlines] for ruining the end of our Thanksgiving trip and leaving my wife in tears – because she wanted us all to sit together as a family while your flight attendant wanted to single her out and humiliate her. Thanks a lot. FYI: [Southwest Airlines] flight staff seem to have form when it comes to mistreating brown/Muslim passengers. Hadn’t flown with them for years and, at this point, don’t plan to do so again anytime in the near future. Not worth it.”
Do you get the impression that Mehdi Hasan’s account is one-sided and leaves out important details? So do I. Southwest’s statement gives that impression as well: “Once we learned about the Customer’s social media message, we began to research the flight and gather information internally.” What? Southwest learned about this from Mehdi Hasan’s Twitter rant? Hasan hadn’t complained to them immediately about this horrific mistreatment?
We also reached out to the Customer directly to discuss his Family’s experience prior to departure.
From our initial discussions, we understand that some Passengers on Flight 5539 were involved in a disagreement over seat selection near the end of boarding. (Southwest does not assign seats; Customers select their seats as they board the aircraft.)
The Flight Crew requested a Customer Service Supervisor come onboard to help address the situation and the conversation was resolved before the plane left the gate.
The Family was (sic) able to sit together and the flight arrived safely in Washington, D.C. on Sunday night. We remain in communication with the Customer who sent the tweet and are working to address his concerns directly.
This sounds as if it were a far more placid and trivial incident than Hasan let on. In any case, this kind of coincidence, with “Islamophobia” happening to a purveyor of the “Islamophobia” myth, has taken place before. In 2016, Rashid Dar of the Qatar-funded Brookings Institution claimed that he was punched in the throat by a random man on a Washington, D.C. street because he was wearing Muslim garb. And last February, “Islamophobia” professor Khaled Beydoun claimed to have been the victim of an “Islamophobic” attack by a Delta captain.
How amazing that of all the many, many people wearing Muslim garb on the street in Washington, the one that this lout decided to punch was an “Islamophobia” propagandist. And what a coincidence that of all the multitudes of Muslims who fly on airplanes every day, many while wearing Muslim garb, that the one that Delta captain decided to manhandle was a professor of “Islamophobia,” and that the hijabi this Southwest flight attendant decided to hassle was Mehdi Hasan’s wife.
There is no doubt that flying on Southwest can be deeply unpleasant. The lack of reserved seating makes for all the predictable problems: people cutting ahead of others in line, people berating others for cutting ahead of them in line, and the like. It is not at all hard to believe that Mehdi Hasan’s wife had a bad experience. The idea that it was because she was “brown and wearing a headscarf,” however, is just more victimhood propaganda, and is frankly preposterous. No flight attendant would dare behave in such a way today, or keep her job for a moment if she did so.
Nonetheless, people will believe Mehdi Hasan. And there will be a new round of handwringing about “Islamophobia” in the establishment media, and new calls for the silencing of all voices critical of jihad mass murder and Sharia oppression of women and others.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.