Anila Daulatzai, a college professor whose research focuses on violence and widows in war-torn countries, was accused of being disorderly after police forcibly removed her from a Southwest plane when she said she was allergic to dogs.
The incident – with law enforcement officers grabbing Daulatzai’s arms as she shouted at them not to touch her – was captured on another passenger’s cell phone, and the video has gone viral.
The Los Angeles Times identified the previously unidentified woman as Daulatzai, 46. Harvard University lists her as having been a Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity School. According to Vogue Magazine, she currently teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has studied the plight of war widows in Afghanistan.
The Harvard Divinity School bio for Daulatzai reads, “Anila Daulatzai is a socio-cultural anthropologist with active research projects in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her current interests primarily circulate around the themes of war and humanitarianism, as well as the related themes of violence and care.”
“Daulatzai teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art, a spokesman for the school confirmed. According to her online bio, she is a socio-cultural anthropologist in the Humanistic Studies department. She previously was a visiting assistant professor at Harvard Divinity School,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Daulatzai Was Told to Leave the Airplane After Revealing She Had a Dog Allergy, Reports Say
The incident was captured on citizen video that is going viral, and it is drawing comparisons to the David Dao incident, in which Dao, a passenger on an United plane, was dragged down an airplane aisle because he refused to give up his seat when the airplane was overbooked. Dao hired a lawyer, and he and the airline, in that case United, settled the case for terms not disclosed.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the latest incident occurred on “Flight 1525, which was set to depart Baltimore for Los Angeles about 8:40 p.m.” The incident occurred on September 26 at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
The video shows two officers grabbing the Daulatzai’s arms, and one officer, with his arms around her chest, yanking and pulling her down the aisle and off the plane. “Don’t touch me!” the woman yells. A third officer was also at the scene.
CBS Los Angeles said Daulatzai “had argued with police about an allergy.” She allegedly “refused to get off” after telling flight attendants she was deathly ill of dogs on the plane, CBS LA reported. Daulatzai also accused an officer of ripping her pants off, CBS LA reported. CBS reported that there was a service dog and another animal on the plane, and Daulatzai did not produce a medical certificate confirming she could safely fly on the plane. The Baltimore Sun reported, “While Daulatzai said her allergy was life-threatening, she was unable to provide the necessary medical certificate,” according to Southwest.
“The woman stated she had a pet allergy but was unable to provide documentation that she could safely fly with the animals on the plane, Southwest said in a statement,” according to CBS News.
“There was one emotional support animal and one pet onboard the aircraft,” the company said in a statement given to CBS. “Our policy states that a customer (without a medical certificate) may be denied boarding if they report a life-threatening allergic reaction and cannot travel safely with an animal onboard.”
2. Police Have Now Accused Daulatzai of Crimes in Connection With the Incident
According to CBS, a witness said that the flight attendants spent a lot of time trying to get Daulatzai to just leave the plane. Bill Dumas, who filmed the scene on his cell phone, told CBS that Daulatzai was acting “odd” and the officers followed protocol. “She just lost control of the situation and she was way in over her head by the point that the police were trying to take her out,” Dumas told CBS Baltimore. “It really looks like police were being overly aggressive, but really she wasn’t giving them much of a choice.” In that way, the incident also shares elements in common with the infamous Dao dragging case: In both instances, the passengers were accused of refusing orders to leave the plane before officers intervened, albeit for different reasons.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Anila Daulatzai “was taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, obstructing and hindering a police officer and resisting arrest.” She is from Baltimore, the newspaper reported. According to the Los Angeles Times, the airline’s spokesman contends that Daulatzai “demanded an EpiPen and was uncooperative,” adding, “We do not have or administer shots.”
Here are the charges as they appeared on the Maryland court website on September 28:
A 2010 foreclosure case is the only other case that comes up for her in the Maryland courts online records search.
In the video, Daulatzai yells, “My dad has a surgery! What are you doing? I will walk off! Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me! You have ripped my pants off.” According to CBS Baltimore, she also shouted, “I’m a professor! What are you doing?!”
According to The Times, “Daulatzai was transported to the Anne Arundel County District Court, where she was released on her own recognizance…She had been removed from the plane at the request of its captain.”
3. Daulatzai Is a College Professor Who Has Research Projects in Afghanistan & Pakistan
According to a bio posted by Harvard, Anila Daulatzai “is a socio-cultural anthropologist with active research projects in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her current interests primarily circulate around the themes of war and humanitarianism, as well as the related themes of violence and care. She was trained at UCLA in Public Health and in Islamic Studies, and completed her PhD in Socio-cultural Anthropology in 2013 from the Johns Hopkins University.”
The university bio reports, “Anila Daulatzai has educated students on three continents (North America, Europe and Asia). The scope of courses she has taught range from anthropology courses specifically on Afghanistan, critical humanitarianism, transnational migration, towards an anthropology of Islamophobia, critical public health and medical anthropology, and radical ethnography as social science research methodology. She has held teaching fellowships and teaching positions at the Johns Hopkins University in the USA, at Kabul University and at the American University of Afghanistan in Afghanistan, at the University of Zürich in Switzerland, and at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.”
She has studied the lives of widows in Kabul.
The South Metro Villager wrote about a talk that included Daulatzai: “Anila Daulatzai, Louise Lamphere Visiting Assistant Professor in Gender Studies and Anthropology at Brown University and 2014-2015 Harvard WSRP Research Associate was the keynote. Daulatzai drew on four years of fieldwork, teaching and research in Afghanistan to examine women’s experience during 30 years of serial war and occupation. Her research on widowhood and the role of the Afghan state, foreign states, NGOs, Muslims and Afghan families provided a window into the everyday life of women in Kabul. Daulatzai’s forthcoming book based on this research is ‘War and What Remains: Everyday Life in Contemporary Kabul, Afghanistan.’”
The Maryland Institute College of Art spokesman told Heavy, “Anila is faculty at MICA, and the College has no comment on the incident at the time.”
4. Southwest Airlines Apologized to Daulatzai for the Incident
Although views on the incident are mixed on social media – some believe Daulatzai was treated this way because of the color of her skin, and others believe she was to blame – Southwest has publicly apologized to the professor.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Southwest released a statement that said, “We are disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the customer’s removal by local law enforcement officers. We publicly offer our apologies to this customer for her experience and we will be contacting her directly to address her concerns.”
According to the Harvard bio, Daulatzai “has graduate degrees from UCLA in public health and Islamic studies, and completed her PhD in socio-cultural anthropology in 2013 at The Johns Hopkins University.”
The bio adds, “Anila is writing a book based on her ethnographic research with widows and their families in Kabul. The working title for her current book manuscript is ‘War and What Remains: Everyday Life in Contemporary Kabul, Afghanistan.’ ‘War and What Remains’ explores everyday life amidst a current war and occupation with a backdrop of prior wars, occupation, and humanitarianism. The book is based on more than four years of anthropological fieldwork conducted between 2003 and 2011 in Kabul, Afghanistan.”
5. Daulatzai Is Teaching a Course in ‘Talibanization’
According to the Harvard website, “Currently Anila Daulatzai is teaching a graduate-level seminar course titled ‘Talibanization’ and its other. This course does not focus on the history of the Taliban movement (or movements described as ‘Taliban-like’), but more importantly on the performative nature of the term ‘Talibanization’. The course explores what deploying the term enables, particularly in the highly militarized contexts of the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
The site adds, “In particular, the course explores how formations of liberalism, feminism, and secularism give life to a term like ‘Talibanization’, and the violence that is enabled and justified by its deployment. Explorations of the ‘liberal’ and the ‘secular’ and of how they are constituted in particular contexts thus form a core aspect of this course.”