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YouTube star Adam Saleh says he was kicked off a Delta Air Lines flight for speaking Arabic to his mom on the phone on Wednesday, December 21, causing the hashtag “BoycottDelta” to trend on Twitter shortly afterward.
In an emotional video clip (which you can watch above) Saleh, 23, shared via Twitter, he and a buddy can be seen getting forcibly removed from the aircraft as fellow passengers display a variety of reactions — some avert their eyes and look embarrassed or confused, while others further back in the plane seem to be mocking the two men.
“We’re getting kicked off the plane because we spoke a different language,” the YouTube prankster says directly into the camera at one point. “This is 2016 … I spoke a word a different language, and you said you feel uncomfortable.”
As one man in the foreground tries to tell the flight attendants that they’re being unfair and discriminatory against Saleh and his friend, several people on the other side of the plane can be seen sarcastically waving goodbye to the pair.
“I cannot believe my eyes,” Saleh says. “Are you serious? I’m about to cry right now … Six white people against us bearded men? I feel uncomfortable.”
“We got kicked out of a @Delta airplane because I spoke Arabic to my mom on the phone and with my friend slim … WTFFFFFFFF please spread,” the Internet personality tweeted along with the minute-and-a-half clip. Twitter users quickly took to the social media platform to express their opinions on the video.
A Change.org petition was started shortly after the clip went viral, asking petitioners to boycott the airline for their unfair treatment of the two men.
“Guys, two Youtubers by the names of Adam and Slim were on their way back to NYC from their world tour to visit their family. Adam was on the phone to his mother who cannot speak any English at all. Naturally Adam used his mother tongue (Arabic), while on the phone he assured his mother that he will be home in 6 hours,” the petition reads. “Slim and Adam were also communicating with each other through Arabic, this is when it took a turn. Several passengers started to curse these two young lads expressing how they felt uncomfortable that they were using another language. Racial slurs were thrown to them.”
In a statement responding to the public outcry, Delta Air Lines said the men were removed and put on another flight after “a disturbance” and said it will investigate the incident. “Two customers were removed from this flight and later rebooked after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort,” the statement reads. “We're conducting a full review to understand what transpired. We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect.”