Alarmed by recent examples of alleged discrimination against Muslim and Arab airline passengers, a senior Democratic senator pressed the trade association for the major U.S. air carriers to explain what it is doing to prevent future incidents.

"Airlines are entrusted with enormous responsibilities to keep our skies safe while respecting the rights of all passengers," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois in a letter to Nicholas Calio, the head of Airlines for America. "No airline passenger should be subject to discriminatory treatment on the basis of the passenger's religion or ethnicity."

"Ethnic and religious discrimination strikes at the core of our nation's commitment to equal protection for all," he wrote in the letter, which was obtained by CNN.

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