A popular YouTube prankster was kicked off a plane for speaking Arabic. Questions linger, however, if the situation was a setup for publicity purposes or to raise bigotry claims.
Adam Saleh is famous for posting prank videos on YouTube, often exposing anti-Muslim sentiment by Americans. He claims he was kicked off of a Delta Airlines flight today after speaking Arabic to his mother on the phone. Saleh posted video and updates on his Twitter account about the incident to his 298,000 followers.
The situation, however, doesn’t seem to be as cut-and-dried as Saleh claims. He is known for his outrageous behavior in an effort to gain publicity. The authenticity of his videos have been questioned in the past. His history of complaining about anti-Muslim discrimination makes the situation a bit too convenient.
At the time, Saleh was also wearing a cap with Arabic writing and traveling with a young Arab friend. Given the recent terrorist attack in Germany, people are likely on edge. Some Twitter users wondered if Saleh used the situation to gain publicity. He has posted video of his treatment as a Muslim on a plane in the past. Many wondered if this was just another Adam Saleh plane prank, which some did not find funny considering the recent attacks.
It would have been very easy for Saleh to speak in Arabic in an agitated manner to cause others on the plane to be concerned. Delta Airlines said over 20 passengers expressed concern over his behavior on the plane, so this was not an isolated complaint. Saleh is now threatening to sue, which makes the situation sound more like a set-up than actual prejudice.
The Brooklyn-born 23-year-old internet comedian and musician, who is a Muslim of Yemeni descent and has a history of producing prank videos alleging anti-Muslim discrimination, shared a series of videos through his Twitter account detailing his experience. Customers on Saleh’s flight reportedly began to complain when they heard him speaking Arabic on a phone call with his mother and friend sitting beside him. One video, with hundreds of thousands of shares, featured Saleh and his friend being escorted off the plane. Some passengers can be heard yelling “bye!” urging Saleh to leave, while others defended the YouTube star who appeared to be fighting back tears.
“Delta Airlines are kicking us out because we spoke a different language,” Saleh said. “I cannot believe my eyes. You guys are racist.”
Saleh, who wore a hat bearing the name “Adam” written in Arabic, continued to record when he returned to the terminal and shared additional videos. He stated he would take legal action against Delta and urged viewers to boycott the airline. The hashtag #BoycottDelta was tweeted thousands of times after the incident. The star said he became frightened when people began to call him a terrorist and that it was wrong for Delta to expel him and not those who were attacking him.
“Delta knew what they did was wrong, but they were scared because the white people were like ‘oh, we feel uncomfortable because he spoke Arabic, we feel uncomfortable.’ I am not letting them go. I feel unsafe, I feel like I’m a freakin’ terrorist right now the way they approached me,” Saleh said.
“I ain’t gonna be quiet about this, I promise you, I promise you on my life,” he added.