American YouTube personality Saleh has elaborated on his claims that kicked him off of an aeroplane “for speaking Arabic”.
Saleh, 22, posted a video on social media on Wednesday saying passengers heard him speaking in Arabic and “felt uncomfortable and called flight attendants”. He was on a flight from London to New York with his friend Slim Albaher, another YouTube personality, who was also escorted off the plane.
Saleh and Albaher have since created a seven minute video explaining the incident.
Saleh claims a phone conversation with his mother, followed by a conversation with Albaher — both in Arabic — prompted the incident.
Saleh alleges that a woman four seats in front of him turned to them and said: “Can you please speak English? I feel really uncomfortable.”
The statement was directed to Albaher, but he felt “paralysed”, prompting his friend, Saleh, speak up on his behalf. Saleh also claims a man stood up and said, “Chuck them off the [expletive] plane.”
“You guys are racists. I spoke a different language and you say you feel uncomfortable. I can’t believe my eyes. We spoke a different language and now there are six white people against us bearded men,” said Saleh in the original video, which was retweeted more than 700 thousand times.
It spurred conflicted discussions and the hashtag #BoycottDelta on Twitter.
Some users pointed towards ’s history with . This includes an incident when did not believe that a black woman was a doctor who could help an unconscious passenger; an incident when mistook a Sikh’s woman’s breast pump for a bomb; and an incident when removed a Pakistani-American couple from a flight because the woman was on the phone while her husband was ‘sweating’, causing discomfort among passengers.
Others were sceptical of Saleh’s accusations due to his reputation of being a YouTube prankster. He had recently conducted a prank on an aeroplane. Two years ago, Saleh uploaded a video dubbed Racial Profiling Experiment which he later admitted was fake. In the hidden-camera style clip, Saleh and a friend pretended to be profiled by the police whilst dressed in traditional Middle Eastern attire. The video caused backlash before Saleh confessed it was staged.
After an hours-long delay at Heathrow Airport involving more security checks, Saleh said he was finally able to board a flight to New York with a different airline and would head straight to see his lawyer.
In a statement, claimed that two customers were removed from the plane after “more than 20 customers” complained. They later posted an updated statement.
“Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behaviour, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any flight,” it read.
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