When I posted with disgust on the Tahera Ahmad story (a Muslim-American woman who reported on Facebook that she was discriminated against by a stewardess and subjected to verbal abuse by a passenger on a United Airlines flight, and that no passengers came to her aid of defense), I noted that the facts seemed hard to believe, and that my commentary was based on a presumption that the account was true without knowing whether they were.
Now there have been two developments that provide additional perspective on the incident, and no enlightenment whatsoever.
First, United announced that it has investigated the incident, and fired the flight attendant. This would suggest that Ahmed’s account had at least some validity…or that the flight attendant got a fat settlement as United fired her to avoid a public relations battle with Muslim groups.
“I was actually on this flight on Friday evening from ORD to DCA…I was sitting close enough to her to hear everything that was said. The flight attendant came up to the lady (I believe she even took her order first in the entire cabin as she was seated in the bulkhead 7d) and took her order. She ordered a coke zero and a hot green tea with a Splenda. The flight attendant handed her a full diet coke with a cup on top and then told her that the green tea would take a few minutes and she would get it to her ASAP. The lady said very rudely and condescending to the FA that she ordered a coke zero and basically pushed the soda back to the flight attendant. The FA said she was sorry and attempted to find a coke zero for her (which she did not have many of) and told her that she could only give her a portion of the can not the full can. This is when the lady in question started to freak out and told the FA “What do you think I will use this as a weapon?! Why can’t I have the whole can? I think you are discriminating against me. I need your name….” The lady just kept yelling to her “I need your name… I am being discriminated against.” This is when a few passengers told her to calm down and one guy told her to “shut her mouth and she is being ridiculous over a can of coke”. No one ever said anything anti-Muslim to her at all. She was the one who started screaming discrimination when she did not get what she wanted. The FA asked her numerous times if she would like anything else when the lady just basically pushed her away with a hand in her face. The lady then got onto her phone with her credit card and paid for the internet so she could start spinning this story on social media and she was never in tears. This person is a liar plain and simple and is just pulling the discrimination card.”
The comment, however, is anonymous.
This would suggest that the original complaint was fabricated, but if so, why did only one passenger contradict that account? Why didn’t United’s investigation debunk Ahmad’s story? Why is the post on FlyerTalk anonymous?
I can’t, and nobody should, credit a post that calls a named individual a liar without the source being willing to be accountable himself (or herself.) The details are impressive and convincing but it doesn’t matter. Posts like this are as unethical as lies. They cast doubt without responsibility; they are inherently untrustworthy.
So we are back where we started. Then as now, I must assume that Tahera Ahmad was abused, that United’s staff behaved unprofessionally, that a bigoted jerk insulted her, and that nobody on the plane had the decency to protest on her behalf.
Or, that if her story is not true, everyone on that United flight is a pathetic coward.