Last updated: 03:15 PM ET, Mon April 18 2016

Iraqi-Born Student Kicked Off Flight for Speaking Arabic

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | April 18, 2016

Iraqi-Born Student Kicked Off Flight for Speaking Arabic

A student born in Iraq was reportedly told to leave a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this month after a passenger heard him speaking Arabic on the phone to his uncle.

According to, 26-year-old Khairuldeen Makhzoomi—a student at University of California-Berkeley—was on a Southwest Airlines plane at Los Angeles International Airport on April 6 waiting to take off for Oakland when he called his uncle.

Makhzoomi was returning from a speech by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the two men were discussing topics covered during the event, including the ISIS terror group. At the end of the conversation, Makhzoomi he used the phrase "inshallah," which means "god willing" in Arabic.

At the end of the conversation, Makhzoomi realized the woman sitting in front of him was staring, and he became concerned that he may be drawing attention to himself. It was at that moment that an Arabic-speaking Southwest employee told him that he would have to leave the plane.

In response, Southwest Airlines released a statement Sunday that stated Makhzoomi was removed from the plane for questioning. While authorities spoke to Makhzoomi, the flight took off without him. Luckily, he was able to book a flight on another airline and eventually arrived at home eight hours later than planned.

The Southwest Airlines statement also read, “We regret any less than positive experience a customer has onboard our aircraft. Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.”


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