Woman arrested on Spirit flight in Romulus; group calls for hate crime charge
A local advocacy group is calling for a woman who was arrested on a Spirit Airlines flight Saturday to be prosecuted under the Michigan hate crime statute after claiming she hurled anti-Islamic slurs at a Muslim passenger on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Wayne County Airport Authority police confirmed the arrest in an email, but did not mention the slurs, characterizing the incident as "a misunderstanding between two women" that got violent when "a third woman intervened in an effort to help (and) was assaulted.
"Airport Police took the suspect into custody and cited her for assault and disorderly conduct," the release said.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations pushed for harsher charges in a Sunday press release. The group wants the woman to be charged under Michigan's ethnic intimidation statute, a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
"On September 11, Aicha Toure, was traveling on Spirit Airlines flight 3807 from Atlanta to Detroit when a white woman whom she did not know boarded the plane acting belligerently," the CAIR press release said.
The release described Toure as "a visibly Muslim woman who wears an Islamic head scarf. During the flight, the white woman reportedly initiated altercations with minority crew members on the flight, and upon landing in Detroit began harassing and intimidating an older woman who looked to be of South Asian descent."
According to the release, Toure asked the woman to stop harassing the other passengers. "(The woman) became violent and called Toure a 'Muslim Terrorist,' along with a number of profanities," the release said.
"When the white woman realized Toure, and others were recording her Islamophobic comments, she struck allegedly Toure with her fist before crew members of Spirit were able to intervene. The alleged assailant was arrested."
CAIR Michigan posted the press release on their website and Facebook page accompanied by screenshot of a video, but did not post any videos of the alleged incident. No videos of the alleged incident could be found online.
Spirit officials said in a press release: "We want each of our Guests to feel safe, welcome and respected. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind.
"A passenger on one of our flights arriving in Detroit last night chose to use appalling language toward one of our Guests. That kind of language has no place on our planes — or anywhere else — and she is no longer welcome on any of our flights.
"We thank our crew for taking control of the situation until law enforcement arrived, and we thank the Wayne County Airport Police for removing her," the release said.