Student removed from plane for speaking Arabic

Passenger was talking to his uncle in Baghdad

Updated: 

Man Kicked Off Plane For Speaking Arabic


An Iraqi university student from California says he was removed from a plane for speaking Arabic.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was removed from a flight on 9 April before it took off.


See also: Easyjet passenger forced off plane for looking 'suspicous'

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Mr Makhzoomi said he was talking to his uncle on the phone about attending a speech by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

He said a woman on the plane reported him after he used the phrase "inshallah," meaning "god willing," in the conversation.

She had also become uncomfortable when he told his uncle about the chicken dinner they were served and the moment when he got to stand up and ask the secretary general a question about the Islamic State.

The passenger told the crew she overheard him making "potentially threatening comments," the airline said in a statement.

He was removed by an Arabic-speaking Southwest Airlines employee and questioned by police.

Mr Makhzoomi was able to book a new flight on Delta Air Lines and arrived in Oakland eight hours after he originally planned.

Speaking to the NY Times, he said he will not pursue legal action against Southwest Airlines but was seeking an apology.

He told the paper: "My family and I have been through a lot and this is just another one of the experiences I have had. Human dignity is the most valuable thing in the world, not money. If they apologised, maybe it would teach them to treat people equally."

The BBC reports that a Southwest spokesperson said he was removed because of "potentially threatening comments made aboard our aircraft" and that it does not tolerate discrimination, adding: "We wouldn't remove passengers from flights without a collaborative decision rooted in established procedures. We regret any less than positive experience onboard our aircraft."

15 flights from hell

15 flights from hell