Still from Adam Saleh footage of alleged removal from a Delta Air Lines flight.
(photo credit: screenshot)
Controversy erupted after a pair of Muslim-American social media personalities claimed that they were kicked off of a Delta airline flight for speaking Arabic this week.
YouTube star Adam Saleh, who is known for his pranks, alleged in self-recorded footage that he along with friend Slim Albaher were subject to removal from the plane on Wednesday in London.
While the authenticity of the incident has come into question, the duo charged that the captain had asked them to depart from the New York-bound flight after other passengers became alarmed when Saleh was heard speaking to his mother by telephone and later to Albaher in Arabic.
Saleh on Wednesday uploaded footage to social media in which he is seen on a plane charging that the ordeal had been the result of discrimination.
"Guys, we spoke a different language on the plane, and now we're getting kicked out," he said in the video.
"This is 2016," he asserts incredulously as some passengers looked on curiously while others waved him triumphant goodbyes.
"You guys are racist," Saleh is heard saying in address to those apparently happy to see him go.
A social media storm ensued following the emergence of the video and Saleh's claims.
Speculation also enshrouded the unfolding of the incident, with ABC affiliate Eyewitness News in New York citing a passenger purportedly from the flight who suggested that Saleh had deliberately attempted to spark confrontation.
On Wednesday night, Delta released a statement saying the two had been removed as it appeared they had "sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting."
"Two customers were removed from Delta Flight 1 departing London-Heathrow today after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort," the airline said.
"This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees," read the Delta statement. "It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority."
The airline added that it was gathering more information on the charges of discrimination. Further updates on the investigation were due to be released.