Southwest Airlines kicked out a Berkeley student from a flight after a passenger overheard him speaking Arabic.
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old refugee from Iraq, was flying from Los Angeles International Airport to Oakland on April 6, when he decided to make a call to his uncle to tell him about his dinner with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.“I just called him and talked to him about it and everything, and he told me (to) call him when I get to Oakland, and I said, 'insha'Allah insha'Allah (God willing), I will call you when I arrive,’” said Makhzoomi.
But the woman seated in front of him abruptly got up and left the plane. Soon after, an airport official with two armed police officers came on board, approached the University of California student and told him to get off the plane.
From there on, the situation gradually escalated to the worst.
Makhzoomi showed the airport official a video of his meeting with Ban Ki-Moon and informed him he was only talking to family to which the man replied, “Why are you talking in Arabic? You know the environment is very dangerous.”
They also asked him what he meant by saying the word “shahid” — a term which is loosely translated as “martyr” in English and is in reference to “jihad” — and told Makhzoomi to come clean about his martyr references. He was ultimately let go, but the airline refused to apologize for humiliating him and evicting him from the plane.
This isn’t the first time Southwest airline has shown blatant Islamophobia towards its customers. Just a while ago, another Muslim — this time a hijab-wearing woman — was evicted from the plane, because the flight attendant “didn’t feel comfortable.”
And that’s not all. A Philadelphia pizza owner was also stopped from boarding a Southwest plane because one passenger saw him speaking to a person in Arabic and surprise, surprise, also “felt uncomfortable.”
Clearly, Southwest needs to update its policy on what it deems a “comfort” level for its customers.