Iraqi College Student Kicked Off Flight For Speaking Arabic [VIDEO]By Mariel Hemingway
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, was ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight when a fellow passenger overheard him speaking Arabic. Makhzoomi is an Iraqi refugee who came to the US in 2010. He studies in University of California, Berkeley. The fellow passenger alerted the crew when she felt threatened by Makhzoomi's conversation on the phone.
As it turns out, Makhzoomi was speaking with his uncle in Baghdad. They had a conversation about Makhzoomi meeting the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon the night before. When they ended the phone conversation, they uttered the customary goodbye "inshallah" which means "if God is willing," reported by The New York Times.
"I was very excited about the event so I called my uncle to tell him about it," the college senior said.The incident happened last April 6 at the Los Angeles Airport where the flight was heading to Oakland.
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) April 17, 2016
A woman nearby overheard the conversation. She stared at Makhzoomi and went to where the cabin crew was. A Southwest Airlines crew member came to him and escorted him off the plane. The employee reportedly treated him like "an animal." When he expressed how Islamophobia played into the situation, the crew member got angry and said he cannot fly. Makhzoomi was embarrassed when he was escorted and searched by the security personnel and some police dogs.
"The way they searched me and the dogs, the officers, people were watching me and the humiliation made me so afraid because it brought all of these memories back to me," he said, reported by NY Mag. He adds that he remembered what Saddam (Hussein) did to his father, a former Iraqi diplomat, who was killed by the regime during the war in Iraq.
After thoroughly searching, Makhzoomi did not have anything threatening on him. He wants the airline to apologize to him for his treatment. The employee who escorted Makhzoomi could not be contacted.
Independent reported that cases of maltreatment over Muslim and Arabic-speaking people by Southwest Airlines have increased. A Muslim woman was reportedly ejected from her flight to Chicago after a flight crew saw the woman's headscarf.