N.C. Man Pleads Guilty |to In-Flight Bias Incident

     (CN) – A Gastonia, N.C., man pleaded guilty Friday to forcibly removing a Muslim woman’s head scarf during a flight between Chicago and Albuquerque.
     The charge intentionally preventing the woman from exercising her religious beliefs stemmed from an incident on board a Southwest Airlines flight on Dec. 11, 2015.
     Prosecutors said that during the flight, Gill Parker Payne, 37, was seated several rows behind a woman, identified as K.A., who was wearing a religious headscarf, known as a hijab.
     Payne later admitted he saw that K.A. was wearing a hijab, and was aware that it is a religious practice of Muslim women to wear a headscarf.
     Payne further admitted that shortly before landing, but while still in-flight, he walked up the aisle to where K.A. was sitting and stopped next to her seat.
     Prosecutors said Payne proceeded to tell K.A. to take off her hijab, stating something to the effect of, “Take it off! This is America!”
     Payne then grabbed the back of the hijab and pulled it all the way off, leaving K.A.’s entire head exposed.
     As a result, K.A. felt violated and quickly pulled the hijab back up and covered her head again, prosecutors said.
     A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.

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