SHAFAQNA-A college student and Iraqi refugee was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight this week, reportedly for speaking Arabic during a phone call.
According to the Daily Californian, UC Berkeley senior Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who fled Iraq in 2002, was overheard by another passenger saying goodbye to his uncle on the phone, using the phrase phrase “inshallah,” which translates to “if God is willing.” The woman, who has not been identified, reportedly thought he had said the word “shahid,” meaning martyr, which is associated with jihad. From the Daily Californian:
When Makhzoomi hung up, he noticed a female passenger looking at him. Once he made eye contact with her, she got up and left her seat.
“She kept staring at me and I didn’t know what was wrong,” he said. “Then I realized what was happening and I just was thinking ‘I hope she’s not reporting me.’”
Makhzoomi was quickly removed from the plane by security, searched by officers with dogs, and told that he would not be allowed to re-board the flight. According to NBC, he alleges that the incident was fueled by Islamophobia, and that all he wants now is an apology. Southwest has not given him one.