College student pulled off Southwest flight for speaking Arabic

College student pulled off Southwest flight for speaking Arabic
© Wikimedia Commons

A college student was pulled off a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this month after another passenger became concerned when he made a telephone call in Arabic, according to The New York Times.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who is a senior at the University of California-Berkeley and came to the United States as an Iraqi refugee, was removed from a flight heading to Oakland from Los Angeles International Airport on April 6, according to the report.


After Makhzoomi called a relative in Baghdad to tell him about an event he had attended in which United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave a speech, another passenger who apparently became alarmed headed to the airplane door and reported her concern to the crew.

“I was very excited about the event so I called my uncle to tell him about it,” Makhzoomi said.

A Southwest Airlines employee, who asked Makhzoomi why he was speaking Arabic, escorted him off the plane.

The report said that the FBI questioned Makhzoomi in a private room but eventually allowed him to return to the terminal after determining no further action was necessary.

Makhzoomi booked a new flight on Delta Air Lines and arrived in Oakland eight hours after he was originally supposed to land.

“We regret any less than a positive experience a customer has onboard our aircraft,” Southwest said in a statement to the Times. “Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said there have been at least six cases of Muslims being removed from flights this year, according to the report.