American Airlines says it is investigating an alleged incident in which a flight attendant instructed a man to remove a pro-Palestinian sweatshirt before takeoff or else face law enforcement.
“We strive to ensure all customers have a positive experience throughout their journey on American,” a spokesperson for the airline told HuffPost. “We are looking into the matter and a member of our team is reaching out to learn more about their experience and address their concerns.”
The incident supposedly occurred Tuesday on a 12:59 p.m. flight from New York to Phoenix, according to a post on X, formerly Twitter.
According to the post, the flight attendant said the man’s sweatshirt was a problem because it was “political.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) shared a photo from the tweet in a post on Instagram, saying that she has known the young man in question for “most of his life.”
“Does American Airlines have a bias towards Palestinians? Is there a policy that enables this kind of targeting and mistreatment?” she asked.
“He was devastated and felt like the erasure of Palestinians in our country has no limits,” the congresswoman said, adding that she emailed American Airlines herself.
“Palestinians exist. We are human beings. And we will not be erased.”
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee also called out the airline, releasing a statement saying the alleged incident was “not only discriminatory but also contributes to the broader context of prejudice against Palestinians and their right to self-identification.”
Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has led to a spike in threats, harassment and hate crimes that are antisemitic or Islamophobic. Since Oct. 7, the conflict has killed an estimated 1,200 people in Israel and more than 15,000 Palestinians.