Ethnic Media Coverage

Iraqi Man Booted Off Southwest Flight for Speaking Arabic

 
LOS ANGELES - A UC Berkley student says he was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this month after speaking Arabic on board.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old Iraqi refugee, came to the United States in 2002 when his diplomat father was killed.

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Now a senior at UC Berkley, Makhzoomi was in Los Angeles attending a dinner at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, an event that was also attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

While on the plane, he called his uncle to tell him about the dinner and ended the phone call by saying “inshallah” — a common term used in Arabic that translates to “God willing.”

But after he hung up, he noticed a female passenger eyeing him suspiciously. The passenger reported Makhzoomi, who was then removed from the flight and searched.

“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. I escaped Iraq because of the war, because of Saddam and what he did to my father.”

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