Muslim Woman Attacked, Called 'Terrorist' by Fellow Passenger While Flying on 9/11

A Muslim woman was allegedly hit and called a terrorist by a passenger on a Spirit Airlines flight while traveling on the 20th anniversary of 9-11.

Aicha Toure was flying from Atlanta to Detroit when a white woman, who was said to be acting belligerently, "spewed anti-Muslim rhetoric" and struck her with a fist, a civil rights group said.

Toure, a Black Muslim woman who wears a headscarf, attempted to intervene when the woman started altercations with minority crew members on the flight, including harassing and intimidating an older woman who looked to be of South Asian descent, the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) said in a statement issued on Sunday.

"When Toure asked the woman to stop cursing at the older woman, she became violent and called Toure a 'Muslim Terrorist,' along with a number of profanities," CAIR 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."

BREAKING NEWS: @CAIRMI Urges Hate Crime Charges for Women Who Assaulted Muslim on @SpiritAirlines on #September11th https://t.co/SZMif5socf pic.twitter.com/3aGPoOQqBk

— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) September 12, 2021

Toure elaborated upon the alleged attack in an interview with 7 Action News, explaining the altercation started when an older woman dropped her luggage, which then accidentally hit another woman who became infuriated and verbally abusive. This prompted Toure to step in.

"I said, 'Excuse me, I don't think she did that on purpose. I think it was an accident. This lady could be your mom. I think you should be a little respectful,' Toure told the outlet. "From there, she looked at me and she was like, 'You f****n' Muslim terrorist, nobody's talking to you. Mind your business.'"

The white woman was arrested upon landing and has been reportedly banned from all future Spirit Airlines flights.

"Airport Police took the suspect into custody and cited her for assault and disorderly conduct," Wayne County Airport Authority police told the Detroit News.

CAIR, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, has called on authorities to charge the woman with a hate crime under Michigan's Ethnic Intimidation Statute.

"We call for the suspect who allegedly spewed anti-Muslim rhetoric during the assault to be charged to the full extent of the law," CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid said.

CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Amy V. Doukoure described the alleged behavior as "reprehensible," adding that "Michigan's ethnic intimidation law was created to protect people like Ms. Toure."

The advocacy group also shared a screenshot from a video taken onboard the flight, showing a woman appearing to talk to another passenger with her mask down.

"A passenger on one of our flights arriving in Detroit chose to use appalling language toward one of our guests," Spirit Airlines said in a statement provided to WDIV. "That kind of language has no place on our planes—or anywhere else—and she is no longer welcome on any of our flights."

The airline said it does "not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind" and thanked the Wayne County Airport Police for removing the woman from the flight.

Attorney Dawud Walid said Toure would be pressing assault and battery charges against the woman and described the suspect as "unrepentant."

"We believe that with besides the issue of assault, there needs to be an additional charge placed against this lady and that is that she should be charged with violating the Michigan Ethnic Intimidation Act because this woman clearly said something in terms of the victim's religion," Walid, who is representing Toure, told 7 Action News.

Newsweek has contacted the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Spirit Airlines for comment.

Spirit Airlines
File photo: A Spirit Airlines Airbus A319-132 takes off from Los Angeles international Airport on January 13, 2021. AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images