Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a senior at the University of California, Berkeley was boarding a flight from LA to Oakland and decided to call his uncle in Baghdad in order to tell him about a speech he had witnessed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. As he was divulging the details, including a conversation he had about the Islamic State with Ki-moon, a fellow passenger overheard him and reported him to the crew. In a statement released by Southwest Airlines, they regarded her findings as “potentially threatening comments”.
New York Times:
“Mr. Makhzoomi, 26, knew something was wrong as soon as he finished his phone call and saw that a woman sitting in front of him had turned around in her seat to stare at him, he said. She headed for the airplane door soon after he told his uncle that he would call again when he landed, and qualified it with a common phrase in Arabic, “inshallah,” meaning “god willing.”
“That is when I thought, ‘Oh, I hope she is not reporting me,’ because it was so weird,” Mr. Makhzoomi said. That is when a Southwest Airlines employee, who also spoke Arabic, came up to him and asked, “Why were you speaking Arabic in the plane?”
Makhzoomi said he was being spoken to “like [he] was an animal” and responded with, “This is what Islamophobia got this country into” and that made him so angry. That is when he told me I could not go back on the plane.”
An F.B.I. agent told Makhzoomi that the Southwest Airlines employee who had been upset by his allegations of anti-Muslim bias said that a passenger reported that he spoke of martyrdom in Arabic and that he had used a phrase that’s often associated with jihadists. The student denied the charge and was allowed to return to the terminal and book a different flight to Oakland.
This ordeal was just another example of he mistreatment of Muslims in the United States and Makhzoomi believes that Americans need to learn how to actually treat people fairly so that it won’t happen to anyone else. “My family and I have been through a lot and this is just another one of the experiences I have had,” Makhzoomi said. “Human dignity is the most valuable thing in the world, not money. If they apologized, maybe it would teach them to treat people equally.”
TSR STAFF: Talia O. @theclosetratchet on Instagram & @tallyohhh on Twitter!