An American Airlines passenger was told to remove his “Palestine” sweatshirt to be able to board the flight heading from JFK Airport in New York to Phoenix.
The unidentified passenger said that he was asked to either hide the sweatshirt, turn it inside out, or be removed by law enforcement, according to Business Insider.
The man said that members of the flight crew told him that his sweatshirt was “political.” He added that flight attendants threatened to remove him from the flight.
American Airlines says on its website that passengers are required to “dress appropriately; bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed,” but mentions no policy about clothing perceived as political.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee condemned the incident in a statement.
“The choice presented to the passenger—conceal their identity or face potential removal—reflects a distressing disregard for the fundamental rights of individuals to express their cultural and national identities,” the group said. “This incident is emblematic of a larger pattern of discrimination that Palestinians and their supporters often face, highlighting a concerning trend of silencing and marginalizing their voices,”
The airliner told The Messenger they contacted the passenger to know more about the incident and his concerns.
“We strive to ensure all customers have a positive experience throughout their journey on American,” American Airlines added.
The war in Gaza sparked mass protests around the world calling for a permanent ceasefire but has also ignited tensions, and in some cases hate crimes, against the Arab and Jewish communities in the U.S.
The nearly two-month Israel-Hamas war began when Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped some 200 others in a string of attacks on October 7.
In retaliation, Israel launched air and ground offensives to eradicate the terror group in Gaza. Israeli bombardments killed 15,200 Palestinian civilians, including more than 4,500 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
At least 200 Palestinians were killed after a temporary ceasefire ended on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Though it is difficult to obtain an accurate figure of those displaced due to the war, the UN humanitarian agency (OCHA) said that around 1.8 million people of Gaza’s population are internally displaced.