Dubai-based carrier Emirates airline on Wednesday denied claims that it suspended a Tunisian pilot for refusing to fly to Israel, after rumors circulated online.
Emirates Airlines, the official airlines of the UAE, responded to the claims by stating that they were false.
A tweet by the airlines read: “Emirates has never employed any pilot by this name and all reports circulating on social media around this are false.”
Emirates has never employed any pilot by this name and all reports circulating on social media around this are false.— Emirates Airline (@emirates) January 13, 2021
US-based Australian journalist and activist against Islamophobia, CJ Werleman, posted a tweet on Wednesday claiming that the airline fired the alleged Tunisian pilot.
I got duped into sharing a fake news story regarding an Emirates Airlines pilot, a story that first appeared on Quds News. I have since deleted the tweet.— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) January 14, 2021
The name of the alleged pilot is Moneem Saheb Tabaa who it is claimed, confirmed his suspension on his Facebook profile, which was then deactivated as soon as the story began to gain traction on social media.
The Middle East Monitor reported that Tabaa’s post read: “Today, I was suspended from my job as a pilot at Emirates Airlines for refusing to fly to Tel Aviv. God is [the] only [one] who takes care of me…I do not regret it”.
منعم الطابع طيار تونسي حر يُعاقب بوقفه عن العمل من قبل شركة طيران #الإمارات والذنب رفضه المشاركة برحلة لـ(تل أبيب).. رده كان باختصار " الله فقط من يرعاني ولست نادما" تحية لك من #فلسطين يابن #تونس الخضراء 🇹🇳🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/ELXd5taMqt— Tamer Almisshal تامر المسحال (@TamerMisshal) January 13, 2021
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Palestine-based media, first broke the news of the pilot’s suspension.
Without fact-checking, once news of his suspension began to get attention on social media, mainstream outlets started to publish articles on the matter while users praised Tabaa for his stance in opposing the normalization deal between Israel and the UAE, signed last year.
I’m not flying Emirates again. A Tunisian pilot has been suspended for refusing to fly to Israel aka historic Palestine - never ceded. Saheb Tabaa, my king ♥️ pic.twitter.com/9LXHuAv3xA— putting the pal in palestinian (@jennineak) January 14, 2021
Following this, Emirates Airlines announced last year that it will begin to operate daily direct flights to Tel Aviv in March 2021.
The UAE was the first to establish diplomatic ties with the country. Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco followed suit, soon after.
Tunisia has made it clear that the country has no intentions to establish ties with Israel.
After Morocco normalized its relations with Israel, Tunisia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement last year which read: “As Tunisia respects the sovereign positions of other countries, it affirms that its stance is principled, and changes in the international scene will never affect it.”