A video of YouTube star Adam Saleh getting kicked off a Delta flight for reportedly speaking Arabic has gone viral, and ignited uproar against the airline for his treatment on the plane.
Saleh, who's known for his prank videos, posted a video to his Facebook page Wednesday morning that showed crew members escorting him and a friend off the plane. The video has been viewed more than 18 million times.
Saleh claimed he was booted from the flight because a fellow passenger claimed that he was making her feel uncomfortable.
“Guys we spoke a different language on the plane and now we’re getting kicked out,” Saleh says in the video. “This is 2016. I cannot believe it. I spoke a different language and you said you feel uncomfortable.”
Some passengers could be seen joyfully waving good-bye as Saleh, 23, speaks to the camera.
Saleh told the The New York Times he was on a New York-bound flight from London's Heathrow Airport when he spoke a few words on the phone to his mother in Arabic.
He said he then spoke to his friend who was traveling with, Slim Albaher, in the language before another passenger asked them to speak in English because the pair was making her uncomfortable.
“At this point, me and Slim looked at each other,” Mr. Saleh said in the interview. “We didn’t know what to do. We felt like we were terrorists.”
The situation then got worse with passengers reportedly mentioning Monday’s terrorist attack in Berlin and then the pair was escorted off the plane, Saleh said.
Delta released a statement on their website saying "more than 20 customers" expressed their discomfort. It is unclear whether they were referring to the Arabic-speaking or the disturbance that followed.
"We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect," the statement said.
People took to Twitter to express their disgust at the alleged racism. The hashtag #boycottDelta began trending on the site.
Delta Airlines needs to make "RACISM" a restricted carry-on item. #BoycottDelta— NUFF$AID (@nuffsaidNY) December 21, 2016
Bilingual = threat— sharon ❤'s LILLY? (@Ronjeny) December 21, 2016
Coloured skin = threat
Different religion = threat
Basically humanity = threat#boycottdelta
But many have questioned the veracity of the video as Saleh is known for his pranks involving flights. One is actually titled, "SPEAKING ARABIC IN A PLANE!"
Saleh, however, told The Times that the scene was definitely not staged.
"The only thing I can say is, I would never film a phone video. That’s when it’s really serious, and I must film," Saleh said.