Northwestern President: United Should Apologize

June 3, 2015

Morton Schapiro, president of Northwestern University, has written to United Airlines, urging the airline to apologize for the way a flight attendant treated the university's Muslim chaplain, The Chicago Tribune reported. In a case that has attracted much anger on social media, a flight attendant declined to give the chaplain an unopened can of Diet Coke, saying that unopened cans could be used as a weapon. Others have noted that the airline has given many people (including one visible on that flight) unopened cans, and suggested that the response to Tahera Ahmad, an associate chaplain and the director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern, was based on her being visible as a Muslim because of her veil.

Schapiro's letter to United said, “Tahera Ahmad is the Muslim chaplain at Northwestern, one of the few female Muslim chaplains in the country, and an esteemed leader in our community…. Yet she was treated with a complete lack of respect. …The extraordinarily unprofessional and humiliating treatment of one of our community members is shockingly disappointing.”

United officials said that the airline has apologized to Ahmad and will respond to Schapiro, who said that United has not done enough to apologize. “Chaplain Ahmad should receive a more formal apology from United, along with assurances that United will train its staff so that she, and others, are never again subjected to such discrimination on a United flight,” Schapiro wrote.

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