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Suspect arrested after alleged racist tirade, physical attack on Spirit Airlines flight

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Posted at 7:58 AM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 09:58:16-04

A Muslim woman is calling for hate crime charges after she says she was attacked on a flight to Detroit on Sept. 11.

Aicha Toure described the attack while she was trying to get off of a plane at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. She says the incident started when an older woman dropped her luggage, which then accidentally hit another woman. That woman allegedly became infuriated and verbally abusive.

That's when Toure stepped 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 said. "From there, she looked at me, and she was like, 'You F-in Muslim terrorist, nobody's talking to you. Mind your business.'"

Toure said the attack turned from verbal to physical before a flight attendant stepped in.

Dawud Walid, Toure's attorney, said if the other woman had apologized, his client would have asked authorities to let her go. But because the suspect was allegedly unrepentant, she's pressing assault and battery charges.

"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 said.

The incident occurred on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We know that people's feelings were high, but that's no excuse for anyone in the U.S. to accost another citizen or another person who resides here," Walid said. "That's unacceptable, and we believe that was driven by animus towards Muslims because she said, 'You're a Muslim terrorist.' That's what was reported to us, and there were witnesses."

"A passenger on one of our flights arriving in Detroit last night chose to use appalling language toward one of our guests," Spirit Airlines said in a statement. "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 suspect was arrested and is still in custody.

This story was originally published by Scripps station WXYZ in Detroit.