Attorney General Warns Against Discrimination
Utah State Attorney General's Office
For Immediate Release
Date: September 27, 2001
For more information, contact Paul Murphy at (801) 538-1892
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff issued a letter to Northwest
Airlines today concerning alleged civil rights violations of three
passengers of Middle Eastern descent. Shurtleff is requesting to meet with
Northwest representatives to discuss why the airline refused to let three
Utah residents board their plane.
Kareem Alasady, his younger brother Akram Alasady, and friend
Raheem Alinani were flying from Philadelphia back to their homes in Salt
Lake City on September 20. They say they were prevented from boarding the
second leg of their trip on Northwest Flight 673 in Minneapolis.
The men say they went through all of the required safety checks and
even answered questions from FBI agents at the airport. They say a
Northwest representative stopped them from taking their ticketed flight
because the crew and other passengers refused to get on the plane with the
"We understand these are fearful times. But we can not let
fear become an excuse to discriminate," said Shurtleff. "We are
all still reeling from these terrorist attacks. But this is a time for
unity and we can not let the terrorists change the way we treat each
The Utah Civil Rights Act passed in 1965 makes it illegal to
discriminate "on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, ancestry,
or national origin in business establishments or places of public
accommodation or in enterprises regulated by the state."
The Act also requires the Attorney General to investigate and to
attempt to seek reconciliation between businesses and citizens who believe
their civil rights have been violated.
"Businesses can take safety precautions but they can not treat
customers differently because of their race or religion," said
Shurtleff. He hopes this will serve as a warning to other companies.
"I agree with the President that the enemy of America is not
our many Muslim friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists. We
need to bring these terrorists to justice. We also need to do everything
we can to protect the rights of all of our citizens."
The Attorney General is talking with the U.S. Department of
Justice, the U.S. Department of Transportation and other attorneys general
to address concerns about other people of Middle Eastern descent being
denied access to commercial airplanes.