UC Berkeley senior Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26 year old Iraqi refugee, was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for speaking Arabic to his uncle during a brief phone call.

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According to the Daily Californian, Makhzoomi 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.

Makhzoomi, who fled Iraq in 2002 after his Iraqi diplomat father was killed under Saddam Hussein’s regime, was plucked from the plane by security, searched by officers with dogs and told he would not be allowed to re-board the flight.


In a report from NBC, he alleges that the incident was sparked by Islamophobia and all he wanted was an apology.

“I don’t want money,” he said. “I don’t care about that. All I want is an apology.”

Southwest has so far not issued that apology and instead made excuses for the outrageous behavior. A Southwest spokesperson sent this statement:

“Prior to the departure of Flight 4620, our Crew made the decision to investigate a report of potentially threatening comments overheard onboard our aircraft. A group of our Employees including the flight Crew made the decision to deny boarding of a Customer, as we worked to review the situation. We understand local law enforcement spoke with that passenger as the aircraft departed the gate. To respect the privacy of those involved, we will not publicly share any further specifics of the event. We prefer to communicate directly with our Customers to address concerns and feedback regarding their travel experience.”


About The Author


Kyle Eustice's intense passion for music journalism has given her the opportunity to talk to many of her musical heroes. With her roots deep in Hip Hop, her writing explores the origins of the culture and keeps it at the forefront of her work.

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