A Muslim woman has taken to social media to report her request for an unopened can of soda on a United Airlines flight was refused because, a flight attendant said, the woman might "use it as a weapon."
Tahera Ahmad, director of Interfaith Engagement at Northwestern University and an associate chaplain there, wrote on Facebook about asking for an unopened can of Diet Coke as beverage service on the aircraft flying from Chicago to Washington began.
She was given an open can, but again asked for an unopened one for reasons of hygiene, she wrote on Facebook.
The flight attendant refused.
"I'm sorry I just can't give you an unopened can so no diet coke for you," Ahmad reported the attendant as saying.
When a passenger sitting nearby was given an unopened can of beer, Amad asked the attendant why she couldn't have the unopened can she had requested.
"She said, 'We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a weapon on the plane,'" Ahmad wrote on Facebook.
"I am sitting on a United Airlines flight in the air 30,000ft above and I am in tears of humiliation from discrimination...." she wrote.
In a statement on its website, United Airlines said the incident was caused by a "misunderstanding."
"The flight attendant onboard Shuttle America flight 3504 attempted several times to accommodate Ms. Ahmad's beverage request after a misunderstanding regarding a can of diet soda," the company said.
Ahmad said she was disappointed about the company's response, suggesting it was not just a specific beverage service issue and accusing United Airlines of Islamophobia.
"It is ridiculing to my integrity to dismiss the discriminatory behavior towards me," she said. "It is truly disheartening when the discrimination of Americans as myself who are working hard every day to promote dialogue and understanding is disregarded and trivialized."
She also said she received no support from her fellow passengers, one of whom cursed her while making reference to her Muslim religion.
"I can't help but cry ... because I thought people would defend me and say something," she wrote.
Last year during Women's History Month, Ahmad, who was born in India and grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois, was honored at the White House "as a leading Muslim female in the United States," according to Northwestern University.