The United States has seen an “unprecedented” spike in Islamophobia since the tragic terrorist attacks struck Paris, France on November 13, 2015, with Muslims all over the country falling victim to shootings, personal assaults, harassment, protests, and attacks on their houses of worship.
According to the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the horrific mass murder in Paris — perpetrated by people claiming affiliation with the militant group ISIS — has sparked a widespread backlash against Muslims in the U.S., even though virtually every major Islamic group in the country condemned the attacks. CAIR, a Muslim civil rights group, published a preliminary report on the wave of hatred in late November, with a growing wave incidents occurring since then.
Using CAIR’s report and our own research, ThinkProgress has compiled an incomplete list below of anti-Muslim attacks and incidents that have occurred in the United States since the Paris attacks. Although our list of
27 46 51 69 73 80 81 incidents includes violent attacks, threats, assaults, protests, airport profiling, and instances of vandalism, it does not include the sharp rise in Islamophobic political rhetoric coming from Republican presidential candidates such as Donald Trump, nor does it include Republican and Democratic governors who are refusing to accept Syrian refugees on the grounds that they could be ISIS agents — a response some argue is Islamophobic. It also excludes harder-to-track everyday instances of Islamophobia, such Muslim schoolchildren who are labeled as terrorists by teachers and fellow students.
Note: We are updating our list and map as more incidents occur. Last updated: 6/14/2016
Anti-Islam Incidents Since Paris
Protests/attacks on houses of worship
Seattle, WA (6/14/16) — A 37-year-old man was taken into custody after posting threats online against the Idris Mosque in North Seattle. The man also claimed to be in possession of an assault rifle and extra ammunition, according to investigators. Following these threats, SWAT and hostage negotiators responded to the man’s apartment June 14, where he was taken into custody following a brief standoff.
Fort Worth, TX (6/12/16) — A woman in an SUV wearing a T-shirt with the word “Pride” threatened several people at the Islamic Association of Tarrant County on Sunday, telling them to get out of America and that someone was coming back to kill them. The complain was brought forth by a member of the mosque and Forth Worth police are currently investigating the threat. Board president Aslam Khan said he believes the threat was a reaction to the mass shooting that occurred at a gay nightclub in Orlando and took the lives of 50 people. Gunman Omar Mateen, who was killed by police, is suspected to have ties to ISIS. Muslim leaders in Dallas have denounced the Orlando shooting and said they are taking extra precautions.
Plainfield, IN (2/28/16) — The headquarters of the Islamic Society of North America, which also houses a mosque, was vandalized early Sunday morning. The culprits spray-painted the building with a number of racial epithets and anti-Islam insults, such as “sand n***er,” “f*ck Muslims,” “F*ck ISIS,” and an image of a phallus. The FBI is investigating the incident.
Minneapolis, MN (2/24/16) — The Umatul Islam Center in south Minneapolis was burglarized, with security camera footage showing a white male breaking doors and windows before stealing computer equipment and causing an estimated $5,000 worth of damage. It was the second time in a month the mosque has been targeted, as surveillance video caught a man staging an unsuccessful break in weeks prior. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton visited the community a few days later to express his sympathy, saying, “This is an assault against your right to choose your place of worship. It’s an assault against the right of every Minnesotan to practice their faith as they chose.”
Charleston, WV (2/21/16) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations reported a threatening Facebook comment to the FBI in February after a West Virginia man responded to a post profiling a Muslim community in Eastern Kentucky by saying, “Burn this place down.”
Tucson, AZ (1/22/16) — Members of the Islamic Center of Tucson repeatedly discovered alcohol bottles and other objects in the mosque’s parking lot, most tossed from balconies in the high rise that looms over the center. The company that owns the apartment complex has since sent a letter to residents condemning the behavior, as well as threatening fines and evictions for those caught participating.
South Milwaukee, WI (1/19/16) — Members of the Christian Civil Liberties Union attended a South Milwaukee Common Council meeting to protest a proposed mosque in the region. Group leaders claimed “Christian beliefs” as their reason for decrying the Muslim house of worship, with one claiming “There’s going to be, I predict, bloodshed one of these years coming up” because of the mosque.
Bayonne, NJ (1/14/16) — A group of “at least 100” residents actively protested the planned construction of a Muslim community center, putting up signs near city hall that read “If the mosque comes, the mayor (goes)” and “No mas, no mosque.” One of the chief organizers of the protest initially argued the anti-mosque movement was mainly about “traffic” issues that the center would ostensibly create, but acknowledged “there is a small fear factor involved as well…It’d be naive not to think that — you know, wherever you hear about mosques, there’s always issues.”
Omaha, NB (1/13/16) — The Omaha Islamic Center was once again vandalized, this time by culprits who copied a tactic used in other mosque desecrations: wrapping door handles with bacon. Security camera footage of the incident also shows two masked men throwing rocks at its glass doors. Local police and the FBI are investigating what is now the fourth case of vandalism against the mosque since August.
Owensboro, KY (1/10/16) — Islamic Center of Owensboro was defaced by red markings that were revealed to be smeared ketchup. Mosque administrators are calling for the incident to be investigated as a hate crime, but local officials say they won’t label it as such because the vandals didn’t leave any specific words or symbols to indicate their motive.
Titusville, FL (1/1/2016) — A suspect was caught on camera vandalizing the Islamic Society of Central Florida Masjid Al-Munin Mosque in Florida’s Space Coast on New Years Day. The footage shows a figure visiting the mosque under cover of darkness and using a machete to smash cameras, lights and windows. Police later reported that bacon was left by the door. A suspect has been arrested in the case.
Las Vegas, NV (12/28/2015) — The Masjid-e-Tawheed mosque was desecrated when someone reportedly wrapped bacon around the building’s door handles just before worshippers arrived for morning prayer.
Tracy, CA (12/26/2015) — The Islamic Center in Tracy fell victim to an apparent firebombing the day after Christmas. The source of the small blaze, which damaged the mosque door, appeared to be a molotov cocktail.
Houston, TX (12/25/2015) — A fire erupted at the Savoy Mosque on Christmas day, causing significant damage to the building while some 200 worshippers were inside. People were eventually able to escape the blaze, but police now report that the fire was intentionally set.
Hawthorne, CA (12/14/2015) — Vandals vandalized over a weekend, with graffiti scrawled on the back of the building and several windows reading “Terrorist,” along with several profanities. Members of the mosque managed to clean up the markings by Tuesday morning.
Richardson, TX (12/12/2015) — A group of protesters from the Bureau of American Islamic Relations rallied outside a mosque near Dallas to protest Syrian refugee resettlement, among other things. The group reportedly targeted the Richardson mosque because they believe its members are connected to other organizations that support Hamas. However, the gathering was overshadowed by a counter-protest nearby in support of the mosque.
Phoenix, AZ (12/11/2015) — Two windows of the Islamic Cultural Center in Phoenix were shattered by vandals, as was a spotlight. The local hate crimes unit was called to investigate the incident, but didn’t immediately conclude whether or not it constituted a biased crime. The head of the mosque was less unsure, saying that he found assertions that it was a random act “hard to believe” given the current wave of anti-Islam backlash.
Coachella, CA (12/11/2015) — A fire broke out at the Islamic Society of Palm Springs, which officials are investigating as an arson and which mosque officials called a firebombing. No one was injured in the blaze, which lasted for around 35 minutes before it was extinguished by the fire department. Local congressman Raul Ruiz issued a statement soon after the incident, calling it “a possible hate crime” and urging police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Twin Falls, ID (12/8/2015) — The words “hunt camp?” were spray-painted across the Islamic Center of Twin Falls, which is still under construction. The meaning of the phrase wasn’t immediately clear, but local police are reportedly responding with an “aggressive approach” and have assigned a detective to the case.
Los Angeles, CA (12/6/2015)— A Sikh Gurdwara, or temple, was spray painted over the course of a weekend in Los Angeles, with vandals scrawling a mixture of gang graffiti and anti-Islam messages on the parking lot walls, as well as “F—k ISIS.” A truck in the parking lot was also spray painted. Sikhs are not Muslim, but often fall victim to anti-Muslim attacks.
Philadelphia, PA (12/6/2015) — A severed pig’s head was thrown at the door Al-Aqsa Islamic Society. According to footage of the incident captured on security cameras, a red pickup truck drove by the mosque twice, tossing out the pig’s head on the second pass. Local and federal authorities are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
Hancock, NY (11/27/2015) — The FBI issued a warning to the Hancock police department that Arizona resident and notorious anti-Muslim activist Jon Ritzheimer had threatened to travel to the state and confront a Muslim group in the area. He reportedly posted a video of himself cocking a gun and threatening to go tell them to “go [expletive themselves] themselves,” while also encouraging all Americans to “carry a long rifle” everywhere they go.
Lexington, KY (11/27/2015) — A Kentucky mosque reportedly received a death threat via email. Police responded by posting a guard outside the facility.
Lubbock, TX (11/24/2015) — Worshippers at a mosque said they discovered several lights broken and the front door of the building smashed overnight.
Irving, TX (11/21/2015) — A group of armed protestors in military fatigues protested outside a mosque, holding Ted Cruz signs and placards that read “Stop the Islamization of America.”
Corpus Christi, TX (11/20/2015) — A letter sent to a local mosque reportedly included a cartoon depiction of Muhammad — an action offensive to many Muslims — along with the instruction “Convert To Christianity Before It’s Too Late!!!”
San Antonio, TX (11/20/2015) — A man in military fatigues was arrested for entering a mosque, cursing at worshippers, and wiping his boots on prayer rugs. A nearby school run by the mosque reportedly canceled classes in response.
Falls Church, VA (11/19/2015) — A Virginia man was charged with leaving a fake explosive device at a mosque, as well as inflicting an estimated $200 damage to the mosque’s gate.
Fort Bend, TX (11/18/2015) — A man was charged with making a terrorist threat after posting a message with the phrase ”I’m going to shoot up a mosque” on Facebook. He also posted images of himself with a handgun, ammunition, and a black military styled knife.
Fredericksburg, VA (11/17/2015) — A public meeting about a proposed expansion to an existing mosque erupted when some attendees began shouting anti-Muslim slurs and epithets. Video of the event shows one man bellowing “Every one of you are terrorists” and “Nobody, nobody, nobody wants your evil cult.”
Omaha, NE (11/16/2015) — Vandals reportedly spray-painted a picture of the popularized Eiffel Tower peace symbol on the outside of a mosque. The mosque has been subject to vandalism several times over the past month.
Pflugerville, TX (11/16/2015) — Vandals allegedly splattered the front of a mosque with feces. In addition, they littered the ground with pages torn from the Quran, also covered with feces.
Portland, OR (11/15/2015) — Worshippers attending afternoon prayer at a mosque were met with protestors waving signs and t-shirts that read “JESUS SAVES FROM HELL,” and “Proud infidel.”
St. Petersburg, FL (11/15/2015) — Just hours after the attacks in Paris, a Florida man left a voicemail on the answering machine of a local mosque that threatened to “come down” and “firebomb you and shoot whoever is there in the head.” The man, who left his name, also indicated that he would kill children, saying, “I don’t care if they are [expletive] two years old or 100.”
Dearborn, MI (11/15/2015) — A woman posted a tweet that read “Dearborn, MI has the highest Muslim population in the United States. Let’s f— that place up and send a message to ISIS. We’re coming.” Police responded by locating the woman who posted the threat, who later made a public apology.
Meriden, CT (11/13/2015) — An assailant reportedly fired several shots through the wall of a mosque. Bullets penetrated three interior walls and struck in prayer areas. Fortunately, no one was in the facility at the time.
Personal threats and attacks
Travelers Rest, SC (6/09/16) — William Tore Tint, who was accused of plotting to help organize an attack on a Muslim community and the killing of its residents, has been sentenced to three years’ probation for lying to the FBI during an investigation. On Sept. 14, 2015, Tint pleaded guilty to “making false statements to the FBI regarding a plan to commit a violent act against a person or property involving him and/or Robert Doggart.” In March, The Muslims of America, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Tint, Robert Doggart and nine others for alleged plans to burn down a mosque, destroy a school and murder residents of Islamberg, a small Muslim county in Delaware County in New York. According to Reuters, Doggart put out a call for a militia to attack Islamberg, and may right-wing groups have characterized the town as a training camp for terrorists and its residents as Islamist warriors.
Garland, TX (6/08/16) — Muslim activist Omair Siddiqi was threatened with racial slurs and nearly ran off the road by a pick up driver whose car had extremist stickers. Siddiqi said he was on his way home from work when he stopped at the Shell Station in Richardson for gas. At that point, a white pickup truck pulled up next to him and proceeded to aggressively tail Siddiqi. The driver was a white, middle-aged man who reportedly said, “Take your rag ass back to your country.” The driver also reportedly threatened and cursed at Siddiqi, saying, “I’m gonna [expletive] kill you.” The drive then attempted to run him off the road, nearly causing Siddiqi to crash into a light pole. The stickers on the back of the truck allegedly refer to American Infidel, an anti-Muslim group, and The Three Percenters, an anti-government extremist group. Siddiqi works as an outreach coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Dallas Fort-Worth chapter. Law enforcement are investigating the case as a terrorist threat.
New York City, NY (6/01/16) — A Muslim man, Mohammed Rasheed Khan, was assaulted and beaten by three men late Wednesday night after leaving prayers at the Center for Islamic Studies in Jamaica, Queens. According to CAIR-NY director Afaf Nasher, Khan got on his bike to go home when three men reportedly punched him in the head and face. From the assault, Khan suffered five broken bones in his face as well as a concussion and fractured ribs. The suspects did not steal any of Khan’s belongings and were reported laughing as they left the scene of the attack. Because no items were stolen and Khan was wearing religious attire, investigators are looking into the case as a hate crime.
Washington, D.C. (4/21/16) — A Muslim woman in D.C. was verbally and physically assaulted by an alleged Trump supporter on the night of April 21 outside a Starbucks cafe. The Muslim woman, whose identity has not been revealed and who was wearing a hijab during the incident, told WJLA that a woman walked past her, sat down, then began saying, “F-ing Muslim. Trash, worthless piece of Muslim trash. You all need to go back to where you came from.” The Muslim woman recorded part of the rant, where the woman can be heard saying, “You’re a terrorist. So stupid,” according to WJLA. The woman then began to talk about her support for Donald Trump. While the Muslim woman called 911, an officer told her there was nothing he could do because of “freedom of speech.” The woman then briefly left, and when she returned, she doused the Muslim woman in an unknown substance. The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident as a simple assault and a suspected hate crime.
Buffalo, NY (2/29/16) — Two teenage Muslim girls were assaulted with eggs because of their appearance, eyewitnesses claim. According to a woman who saw the encounter, three men pulled up to bus stop, exited their car, and began yelling before pelting the two hijab-wearing women with eggs. By the time the eyewitness — who called the incident a hate crime — got to the young women, she said they were crying. One of the perpetrators left a cell phone, which was handed over to police.
St. Louis, MO (2/23/16) — Police are investigating an incident in which an armed man allegedly threatened an entire Muslim family. According to the police report, a man approached the family as they were house-hunting, yelling obscenities at them before shouting “You Muslim? All of you should die!” and “This state allows you to carry a gun and shoot you.” The man then reportedly left and returned with a handgun, pointed it at the family’s vehicle – with children inside – and said, “You, your wife and your kids have to die. I’m going to take a picture of your plate and come hunt you down!” After the family called the police and photographed the man holding the gun, officers took him into custody and seized his weapon.
Sacramento, CA (1/27/16) — Campus police and university officials are investigating an incident at California State University, Sacramento, in which written hate speech was discovered directed at the school’s Muslim community. Members of the Muslim Student Association had reportedly left a sign-up sheet for their club before leaving for class, on to return and discover that a hateful message scrawled across it. School officials would not discuss the form or content of the note, but a letter from the president to students regarding the incident read, “We will not tolerate hateful and racist behavior on this campus, and we will pursue sanctions against those who are identified.”
Philadelphia, PA (1/19/16) — Amine Aouam, a Muslim Philadelphia resident, was brutally attacked allegedly for simply speaking in Arabic. Aouam told reporters that while talking to a friend late at night in a Moroccan dialect, a nearby woman began staring at him. He greeted her by saying “good evening” in Arabic and then walked away with his friend. One of the woman’s male companions then confronted Aouam while shouting “stop that shit!” as another man allegedly sucker-punched him from behind. Aouam was knocked unconscious after he fell to the ground, waking up in the hospital hours later. Police are investigating the incident and reviewing security camera footage of the attack.
New York City, NY (1/18/16) — A Bronx resident adorned with traditional clothing worn by men from Pakistan and Indian was brutally attacked by teenage assailants in front of his nine-year-old niece. The culprits reportedly punched the Bangladeshi man until he fell, then continued kicking his body while shouting “ISIS! ISIS!” The assault, which landed the man in the hospital and reportedly traumatized his niece, is being investigated as a hate crime by the NYPD.
Sunrise, FL (1/13/16) — Police are investigating a Facebook post in which a user threatened to set fire to local mosques in Southern Florida. The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida alerted authorities after seeing the social media post.
South Kingstown, RI (12/24/2015) — A man was caught on camera making anti-Islam statements to a store clerk and threatening to kill him, saying, “I’m going to stretch your tongues out. I’m going to f*****g kill you people on Christmas Eve.” He was also heard saying “We don’t want Muslim stores in our neighborhood. No Muslim stores in our neighborhood.” The man has since been charged with disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana.
Grand Rapids, MI (12/14/2015) — An armed robber called a store clerk a “terrorist” before shooting him in the face, presumably because of his Indian descent. Before shooting him, the robber put the barrel of the gun inside the store owner’s mouth, but the clerk turned his head before the assailant pulled the trigger so the bullet exited out his cheek. The robber suggested the man was affiliated with ISIS, adding that he used to kill people “like him” in Iraq. The store owner survived the incident.
Cooper City, FL (12/14/2015) — Vandals reportedly wrote “F— Muslims” on the wall outside of Nur UI Islam Academy overnight, just outside the school’s entrance. The incident occurred just after several Jewish homes in the area reported receiving cryptic anti-Semitic letters, such as “X-Mas is not for Jews.”
Santa Clara, CA (12/10/2015) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations building in Santa Clara, CA was evacuated after a suspicious letter containing white powder was received. The sender put his name down as “infidel.”
Washington, D.C. (12/10/2015) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) building in Washington, D.C. was evacuated by the D.C. Fire Department after the office received an envelope with a “suspicious” powder substance and a hate message about “painful deaths.” The initial testing of the substance came back “negative.”
Grand Forks, ND (12/8/2015) — Local police and the FBI are investigating the burning of a Somali restaurant in North Dakota as a possible hate crime. The blaze occurred less a week after the front of the store was spray-painted with the words “go home” over a symbol that appeared reminiscent of the Nazi “SS” symbol. The Minnesota chapter of CAIR said the incident “fits a pattern of increased hate-motivated crimes … targeting persons and property associated, or perceived to be associated, with Islam and the American Muslim community since the Paris attacks.” A Minnesota man has now been arrested and charged as a suspect in the case.
New York City, NY (12/8/2015) — The owner of Food Mart in Astoria, Queens, was reportedly attacked when a customer entered the establishment and asked if everything was free. The customer then attacked the store owner, beating him in his face and head as while allegedly saying, “I want to kill Muslims.” He continued beating the owner until another customer entered the store and called police. The attacker, described a white man in his 50s, as apprehended and arrested by police.
Cullman, AL (12/7/2015) — Recruitment flyers for the Ku Klux Klan were reportedly dispersed throughout Pullman County, Alabama bearing the slogan “The KKK Wants You! Help us fight the spread of Islam in our country.” The Alabama CAIR chapter condemned the flyers in a statement, saying, “The KKK must be repudiated, whether it targets African-Americans, Muslims or any other minority group with hatred and intimidation.”
Manassas, VA (12/3/2015) — The Manassas mosque in Manassas, Virginia reported receiving a threatening voicemail from a man claiming to be with the “Jewish Defense League,” saying “We are checking if one Jew has been killed in California. You all will be sorry. You all will be killed.”
Pittsburgh, PA (11/20/2015) — A cab driver reported that he picked up passenger, who proceeded to rant about Islam and ask the driver if he was Muslim. When they arrived at their destination, the passenger allegedly left to retrieve his wallet, only to return brandishing a rifle. The cab driver sped away, but the passenger reportedly fired two shots as he left — one of which shattered the back window, and another which struck the driver between his shoulder blades. He is currently recovering in the hospital.
New York City, NY (11/20/2015) — A postal worker was arrested on hate crime charges for spitting on two Muslim women, following them into a deli, and threatening to burn down their mosque. She was also called the woman “n**ger.”
San Diego, CA (11/20/2015) — A Muslim student at San Diego State University reported she was battered by a man who pushed and pulled her by her headscarf while making hateful comments about Islam.
Austin, TX (11/19/2015) — A Muslim woman told local news that she returned to her car after going to the gym to find a note that read “Go away!” The note was scrawled on a schedule from the gym, leading her believe that a fellow gym member wrote it.
New York City, NY (11/19/2015) — A 6th-grade Muslim girl at the Williamsbridge School in was reportedly called “ISIS” by a group of boys, placed in a headlock, and punched while they attempted to forcibly remove her hijab. Police were forced to respond to the scene, but a police report was not filed. A disciplinary hearing over the event has been reportedly put on hold at the school with the boys’ parents obtain legal representation.
San Diego, CA (11/18/2015) — A woman wearing a headscarf said she was shoved by a man while pushing a stroller, forcing it into her visibly pregnant belly. The victim told police she knew the perpetrator and that he had harassed her before.
Norman, OK (11/16/2015) — An Oklahoma man allegedly called the police to say that he was dealing with mental illness and that he planned to attack Muslims, saying, “[I’m] going to go out there and just start shooting anything that looks like a Muslim after what they did to France.” When officers arrived, he was standing in the doorway holding a gun. When he refused to drop his weapon, officers opened fire and disarmed him. He is currently recovering in a hospital in stable condition.
Charlotte, NC (11/16/2015) — An Ethiopian Christian Uber driver told local media that a passenger mistook him for a Muslim and then attacked him, punching him while he was driving. The passenger threatened to strangle and shoot him “right in the face” before the driver stopped the car, honking the horn to attract attention.
Orlando, FL (11/16/2015) — A gunman reportedly fired several shots into the home of a Muslim family in Orange County, Florida. The bullets penetrated the garage wall, and one was discovered in the family’s dresser in their master bedroom.
Cincinnati, OH (11/15/15) — A pre-med student at the University of Cincinnati told reporters that she was called a terrorist and almost run over by a man while trying to cross the street. She said that as she left a Starbucks after a night of studying, a man began honking, cursing, and calling her a terrorist before gunning his car toward her. She said three bystanders pulled her onto the sidewalk before the vehicle could run her down. According to CAIR, she was the third Muslim in Cincinnati harassed that week.
Storrs, CT (11/15/2015) — According to Mass Live, a University of Connecticut student named Mahmoud returned to his dorm room to find his name crossed out and the words “killed Paris” scrawled across the door. The school is currently investigating the incident.
Profiling at airports
Albuquerque, NM (5/13/16) — Gill Parker Payne, the 37-year-old man from North Carolina who ripped off a Muslim woman’s hijab during a Southwest Airlines flight in December 2015 has pleaded guilty in the District of New Mexico to one count of using force or threat of force to intentionally obstruct a Muslim woman in the free exercise of her religious beliefs. Payne and the woman, identified as K.A., were aboard a flight from Chicago to Albuquerque, New Mexico. While the plane was still in-flight, Payne, who was seated several rows behind K.A., walked up to the aisle where she was sitting and demanded she take off her hijab, reportedly saying, “Take it off! This is America!” When she did not remove the headscarf, Payne grabbed the hijab and pulled it all the way off, leaving her head exposed. According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Payne was aware that wearing a headscarf is a religious practice of Muslim women and admitted that he saw K.A. wearing the hijab.
Philadelphia, PA (5/05/16) — Guido Menzio, an economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was escorted off an American Airlines flight traveling from Philadelphia to Syracuse, New York after a passenger mistook a math equation he was working on for a terrorist threat. Upon waiting for take off, the professor began working on a differential equation for a speech he was scheduled to give at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. The woman sitting beside him, who said she was feeling sick, gave a note to a flight attendant. After, the plane headed back to the gate, Menzio was escorted off the plane and questioned by an official, who told him he was suspected of terrorism. After showing staff and authorities his calculations, Menzio was allowed back on the plane.
Chicago, IL (4/14/16) — A Muslim woman wearing hijab was reportedly removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after asking to switch seats with a passenger. CAIR alleges that the woman, who was rebooked on a later flight, was removed without adequate explanation.
Los Angeles, CA (4/6/16) — Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a UC Berkeley student and Iraqi refugee whose father was killed under Sadam Hussein’s oppressive regime, was pulled off a Southwest Airways flight allegedly for simply speaking in Arabic. According to Makhzoomi, he called his uncle after boarding the plane, speaking excitedly in Arabic as he told him about attending a dinner at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council — an event that was also attended by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. But after he hung up, he says a female passenger began eyeing him suspiciously and reported him, at which point he was removed from the flight and searched by security officials and police dogs.
Officials found no evidence of any wrongdoing, but Southwest refused to fly Makhzoomi back to Oakland. When they eventually called him back on days later to say he was clear to fly, they offered no apology.
Chicago, IL (3/31/16) — A Muslim family claims that they were kicked off a United Airlines flight because of the way they look. In one video taken during the incident, a flight attendant says to the family, “We’re going to ask that you step off the aircraft with all your belongings.” When a man asks why, the flight attendant replies, “Because they are investigating.”
The family was reportedly rebooked on a later flight. The airline claims the issue wasn’t their religion or appearance, but because their child’s safety seat “did not comply with federal safety regulations.”
Mexico City, Mexico (2/8/16) — Sikh American actor, model, and jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia was barred from boarding an Aero Mexico flight bound for New York City because he refused to remove his turban, arguing that taking off his religious head covering in public — something he reportedly wouldn’t have to do in an American airport — is “like asking someone to remove their underwear in public.” The airline initially told him he would be unable to board any Aero Mexico plane, but eventually offered him another flight after news broke of his plight. Ahluwalia refused to board a flight until Aero Mexico agreed to publicly apologize and offer training on religious headgear for their staff — and after two days of news coverage and public pressure, the airline conceded.
Los Angeles, CA (1/16/16) — A Muslim member of the Australian parliament, Dr. Mehreen Faruqi, was separated from her husband by security officials at Los Angeles International Airport and questioned for an hour. Authorities reportedly demanded to know how she “actually got” her Australian passport, as well as grilling her on her Pakistani history and asking for a second form of identity. Faruqi, who was visiting the U.S. to see family and participate in a self-funded fact-finding trip on drug law reform, called the process “humiliating” and evidence of racial and religious profiling.
Orlando, FL (12/18/16) — A man with a hummus bowl and two other passengers were reportedly removed from a Delta airlines flight from Orlando to New York City for unclear reasons. One of the passengers began live-tweeting the incident, which he said began when a woman became “suspicious” of the man with the hummus bowl. Delta insisted the passenger was removed for “failing to comply with the flight attendant’s request to discontinue the use of [his] cell phone,” but the individual who was live-tweeting the incident pointed out that he and several other passengers were still using their phones throughout the ordeal — but not removed from the flight. He called the act “racist,” and noted that fellow passengers appeared to reinforce stereotypes after the airline “pulled a random brown guy off for questioning,” describing a couple that “took a pic of the hummus bowl he left behind and just laughed.”
New York City, NY (Early December 2015) — Four men who were kicked off a flight from Toronto to New York City in December have filed a federal lawsuit against American Airlines, claiming they were removed from the plane for “looking too Muslim.” According to the lawsuit, the men — two Bangladeshi Muslims, one Arab Muslim, and one Sikh from India who wears a traditional turban — were removed from the plane for no reason other than their appearance and the fact that only some in their party upgraded their tickets. The group’s lawyer noted that the airline didn’t accuse any of the men of inappropriate behavior or of being a security threat, and said the incident amounts to outright discrimination.
Minneapolis, MN (12/2/2015) — Valarie Kaur, an attorney, lawyer, and regular guest on MSNBC, was asked to show her breast pump to fellow passengers on a Delta Airlines flight to “prove” she wasn’t a terrorist. Delta has since apologized.
Newark, NJ (11/26/15) — Kameelah Rasheed, a Muslim American woman, was pulled off a flight bound for Istanbul out of the Newark Liberty International Airport, forcing her to endure a two-and-a-half-hour ordeal that involved being interrogated by customs officials and an FBI agent. Officials reportedly confiscated her passport and phone, and accused her of purchasing a one-way ticket — even after when she offered evidence of return tickets. Rasheed, who is an artist, Stanford University graduate, and Fulbright scholar, said had to endure the questioning “because I’m Muslim,” adding it was “an attempt to humiliate and ostracize me.” She noted that she was was the only person out of 200 asked to leave the flight, and was “the only visibly Muslim person” because she wore a headscarf.
Philadelphia, PA (11/19/2015) — Two Palestinian-Americans from Philadelphia (one of them a pizza shop owner) were told they couldn’t board a plane because another passenger was made uncomfortable when they started conversing in Arabic. They were eventually allowed to fly, but only after calling 911 and being held at the gate for 20 minutes.
Baltimore, MD (11/17/2015) — Four people of Middle Eastern descent were removed from a plane when another passenger claimed one was involved in “suspicious activity” — namely, viewing a news report on a smart phone. None of the passengers removed from the plane were charged with any crime.
Celisa Calacal is an intern with ThinkProgress.