(CNN) -- Two imams heading to a conference on prejudice against Muslims said they were forced off their North Carolina-bound flight to undergo an additional security check -- only to have the pilot take off without them, even after they were cleared.
Atlantic Southeast Airlines said in a statement that it was investigating the incident, which took place Friday night aboard a flight out of Memphis, Tennessee.
Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghloul, both imams in the Memphis area, were clad in Islamic attire when they were told to leave the aircraft as it was taxiing toward the runway. Their lawyer, Mo Idlibi, told CNN on Saturday that neither man had done anything out of the ordinary, nor were they praying or chanting.
Rahman, who is also a professor of Arabic at the University of Memphis, said he and his colleague cooperated throughout the process and thanked Transportation Security Administration agents and others for their kindness and courtesy. But he said, through intermediaries, that they had difficulty finding out why they were ever kicked off the plane.