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Student thrown out of Southwest Airlines flight for speaking Arabic

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Los Angeles: A college student removed from Southwest Airlines after a passenger overheard him speaking Arabic and notified the flight crew.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, a senior at the University of California, Berkeley was on a 6 April Southwest Airlines flight when the unpleasant incident took place.

Makhzoomi , an Iraqi refugee said he was in conversation with his uncle in Baghdad in Arabic and a nearby passenger overheard his conversation when he used the phrase “Inshallah,” which translates to “if Allah is willing.”

At the end of the conversation, he noticed a female passenger staring at him. “That is when I thought, ‘Oh, I hope she is not reporting me,'” Makhzoomi said.

“She kept staring at me and I didn’t know what was wrong,” he told the Daily Californian. “Then I realized what was happening and I just was thinking ‘I hope she’s not reporting me.’”

“I told them, ‘This is what Islamophobia looks like,’” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “And that’s when they said I could not get on the plane, and they called the FBI.”

“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 said.

Makhzoomi wants an apology from Southwest Airlines for the treatment he received.

“All I want is an apology today,” Makhzoomi said. “We as a people, Iraqi, American, Iranian, we share one thing in common, and that is our dignity. If someone tries to take that away from us, we should fight but not with aggression, with knowledge and education. One must stand for his principle.”

This is not the first such incident involving the carrier this month. Last week, a hijab-clad Muslim woman in the US was reportedly removed from a Southwest Airlines plane a after a flight attendant felt alarmed by her headscarf.

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