ALBERTA

Mohamad Abou Shhadi Criticizes Air Canada; Files Human Rights Complaint Against Airline

01/29/2014 07:52 EST | Updated 01/29/2014 10:59 EST
Getty Images

A long time Fort McMurray resident who claims Air Canada has repeatedly stopped him from boarding flights because of a security error, is taking the airline to court.

Mohamad Abou Shhadi has filed a human rights complaint against Air Canada after being refused permission to board a flight from Vancouver to Fort McMurray. He claims he has also been denied boarding on Air Canada flights from Toronto to Cairo and on a recent flight from Calgary to Las Vegas.

Abou Shhadi was told he's on a U.S. no-fly list. He contacted U.S. Homeland Security, who told him it was an error, and provided documentation he could use to avoid further trouble. While he's always been able to board WestJet flights, Air Canada reportedly continues to deny access.

The Canadian citizen who was born in Lebanon, told CBC News he feels "belittled."

He's lived in Fort McMurray for almost two decades and is involved in the jewelry business, which requires constant travel to trade shows.

His lawyer Khalid Elgazzar says the U.S. no-fly list doesn't even apply to domestic Canadian flights, and says Air Canada is being discriminatory.

"They're affecting the mobility of Canadian citizens within Canada, on the basis of a foreign list," Elgazzar told The Huffington Post Alberta.

Anecdotal evidence suggests Muslims and Arabs are over-represented, on the list, says Elgazzar, who calls it a discriminatory tool.

"Air Canada is perpetuating discrimination," he says.

Elgazzar also criticizes the no-fly list, saying it "turns the presumption of innocence on its head."

Abou Shhadi isn't the only Canadian upset with Air Canada.

Elgazzar says he represents multiple Canadian clients who are Muslim, who have had trouble boarding Air Canada flights. He says no one is notified if they are on the list and don't find out until they are at the airport.

"Essentially you wake up one morning and your name's on the list, you aren't given warning.

"You get entangled into this web and it's extremely hard to get out."

Air Canada said in an email that it is not able to comment on individual customer matters pertaining to U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Secure Flight Program.

The airline settled with Shahid Mahmood at a Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2010, after the Toronto editorial cartoonist was not allowed to board a flight from Vancouver to Victoria in 2004.

Ten years later, Mahmood wrote in a Toronto Star opinion column published on Saturday, that he's still having trouble getting off the no- fly list in Canada.

Shahid Mahmood, who is a HuffPost blogger, wrote about his ordeal here.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated incorrectly that Abou Shhadi was not allowed to board a flight from Vancouver to Edmonton. The flight was from Vancouver to Fort McMurray.

Also on HuffPost

More Flying Snafus