BEIRUT

Lebanon News

MEA fires female employee involved in racist incident

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2010 file photo, a Middle East Airlines jet lands at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

BEIRUT: Middle East Airlines has fired the female staff member involved in a racist incident over the weekend, according to a company official.

The airline said Tuesday on its Facebook page that “severe disciplinary action” had been taken against the two staff members involved in the incident, but an anonymous MEA official told the Associated Press that the female employee had been dismissed.

The punishment followed an online petition demanding an apology from MEA after a flier, Abed Shaheen, witnessed an MEA employee singling out Filipino and Nepalese customers over the loudspeaker Saturday evening at the Beirut airport, instructing them to be quiet and laughing at them in a mocking way. Her male colleague was encouraging her, Shaheen said.

Shaheen blogged about the event and it gained widespread Internet exposure.

In the statement published Tuesday, the state-owned company said that “This type of behavior represents an isolated case, and is 100 percent against MEA’s policy. It does not fit within MEA’s culture, and furthermore goes contrary to our training procedures.”

However, many MEA customers commented that the airline should have also made a public apology and others demanded that the individual staff members be named.

Michelle Hatem commented that, “Racism is not to be tolerated and especially among MEA staff. As a Lebanese citizen I am proud of MEA and I would like to see the appropriate consequence taken to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Mazen Hajjar added, “How about some transparency and explaining who they were or at least what action was taken? This is a joke and reflective of a culture of no accountability. It is your duty to inform us as clients what action was taken. You are owned by the Lebanese people through the Central Bank and you need to come clean with us.” - with AP

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 10, 2012, on page 4.

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