DALLAS - Two leaders in the Islamic community say they were racially profiled during a recent American Airlines flight.
They say a crew member reported them acting suspiciously. The ordeal has left them upset and emotional.
Their attorney has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
American Airlines has responded to the claims, saying the flight was cancelled due to security concerns raised by a crew member and passenger.
They also say they're reviewing the incident and have reached out to the two men involved to better understand their experience.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on the Department of Transportation to investigate the incident.
“It was really the most horrible, humiliating day of my life,” Issam Abdallah said.
On September 14, Abdallah and his friend boarded an American Airlines flight -- operated by Mesa Airlines -- from Birmingham to DFW.
They were in Alabama meeting with the local CAIR chapter about opening up schools in Africa.
The men say they waved to one another across the rows before taking their seats.
Soon after, they say an announcement was made that the flight would be delayed.
So Abdallah went to use the restroom.
“When I opened the door after I finish, you know, I found the flight attendant,” Abdallah explained. “I was really surprised, like she was by the door, like she was eavesdropping.”
Soon after, the flight was cancelled and everyone was told to deplane, the men say an FBI agent asked to talk to them and re-check their luggage.
“I will tell you what happened, the airline crew, they called the police at the airport, and saied they are not comfortable to fly with this man - for me and my traveling companion,” Abdallah said. “I told him the reason. He said that I went to the bathroom and flushed twice.”
The men were eventually cleared, and American rebooked them on a later flight.
An American Airlines spokeswoman says the decision was made to deplane the aircraft and have it re-inspected.
A statement from American Airlines read, in part: "American and all of its regional partners have an obligation to take safety and security concerns raised by crew members and passengers seriously.”
The men say they're traumatized.
“And I'm literally having hard time sleep some nights, and this is unacceptable,” Abderraooof Alkhawaldeh said. “For what, for somebody flushing the bathroom, for somebody waiving at his friend. I hope this doesn't happen again and those who are responsible must be held accountable.”
The men say they want an apology from the airlines, and for flight crews to undergo diversity training.
The U.S. Department of Transportation received a copy of the complaint on Thursday.
There is no word yet on what action - if any -- the federal agency will take.