Muslim man removed from plane for saying 'Inshallah'
'I lived under Saddam Hussein - I know what discrimination feels like.'
A Muslim man was told to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after another passenger overheard him speaking Arabic on his mobile phone.
A Muslim man was told to leave a flight on a US airline after another passenger overheard him speaking in Arabic.
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old Berkeley graduate, was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport for saying 'Inshallah' which means 'God willing'.
'I lived under Saddam Hussein - I know what discrimination feels like,' said the young man who came to the US in 2010 as an Iraqi refugee, The Independent reported.
The incident took place in April this year.
According to media reports, Makhzoomi had made a brief call to his uncle in Baghdad, telling him how excited he was to ask a question to the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, during a dinner the previous day. Before hanging up, he said the Islamic phrase in Arabic of "Inshallah".
He added that he had noticed a woman staring at him as he hung up the phone, assuming she was irritated by his loud voice. But shortly after, he was approached by police officers within minutes who asked him to get off the plane
"One guy came with police officers within two minutes - I can't believe how fast they were - and told me to get off the plane," he told CNN.
An agent escorted him outside and asked him why he was speaking in Arabic considering "today's political climate". You need to be very honest with us with what you said about the martyrs. Tell us everything you know about the martyrs," the agent said to him.
The political science graduate was also subjected to sniffer dogs to sniff his luggage, he was searched and his wallet was taken away.
"The US is the land of freedom. People respect the rule of law. How could people be humiliated like this? That was the real shock," he told The Independent.
He was not allowed to reboard the Oakland-bound plane, and was given a full refund. He booked another flight with Delta.
Southwest Airlines is yet to comment on the incident.
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Makhzoomi has been left shaken by the incident, suffering from sleep deprivation for days after the incident. He has asked the airline to apologise.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has filed a complaint with the US Department of Transportation Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings against Southwest Airlines for "racial and religious profiling of a Muslim passenger".
"We are looking for a federal investigation and for the Department of Transportation to hold Southwest Airlines accountable."
Despite the traumatic ordeal, the young Iraqi immigrant is applying for his masters and is grateful that the US has provided him with "the best education, and so many opportunities".
"This our home. We don't have another home. The experience was just unpleasant," he said.
This is not the first time that a Muslim passenger has been kicked off a plane in the US. There have been numerous reports this year alone.