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YouTube Prankster Adam Saleh Claims He Was Kicked Off Delta Flight for Speaking Arabic

Variety logo Variety 12/21/2016 Sarah Ahern
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YouTube star and notorious prankster Adam Saleh claims he was kicked off a Delta Air Lines flight on Wednesday morning because he spoke Arabic before takeoff. Saleh was on a plane in London heading to New York City.

“We spoke a different language on the plane and now we’re getting kicked out. … This is 2016,” Saleh says to the camera as he’s shown being escorted out by flight attendants. A group of passengers can also be seen waving to the camera, saying “bye.”

“You guys are racist,” Saleh said. “I spoke a word, a different language — and you said you feel uncomfortable? … Six white people against us bearded men?”

Saleh tweeted a video that has since gone viral (Warning: the clip contains an F-bomb).

Saleh also Periscoped himself crying after the incident, voicing his outrage about being “racially profiled.”

Saleh insists that he spoke in Arabic to his mother and then began conversing in the same language with his friend, fellow YouTuber Slim Albaher, who was also ejected from the plane. He says a woman in front of them asked them to speak English and other passengers soon joined, sparking pleas that he be kicked off the plane.

Saleh was later rebooked on a Virgin flight to New York City.

Delta confirmed in a statement that the two passengers were removed from the flight, citing a “disturbance in the cabin.” The airline is investigating the incident in light of “allegations of discrimination,” they said in a statement released on Wednesday morning.

“Two customers were removed from this flight and later rebooked after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort,” the statement reads. “We’re conducting a full review to understand what transpired. We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect.”

Saleh has gained a significant online following for posting prank videos on his YouTube channel, which has more than 2 million subscribers. Some stunts, including his most recent one, have been set in airports and concerned the stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs, so his claims are being met with much skepticism and speculation that this may be another hoax. In fact, he pretended to smuggle himself onto a plane in a suitcase in his latest YouTube video.

Celebrities have taken to Twitter to voice their frustration with the way the airline handled the situation, calling for a Delta boycott.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Delta,” Olivia Wilde tweeted. “We won’t be flying with you again. Unbelievable.”

Moby also responded to the incident, urging his followers to #BoycottDelta. The hashtag began trending on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

“We need to boycott any/all companies who practice or condone bigotry,” he wrote.

Others, including singer Halsey, have since deleted such tweets following skepticism about the credibility of Saleh’s claims.

Saleh told the New York Times (in a phone interview before his flight to New York) that this was not a stunt.

“The only thing I can say is, I would never film a phone video,” he said. “That’s when it’s really serious, and I must film.”

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