A Berkeley Student Was Kicked Off A Flight For Saying 'Inch’Allah' On the Phone: Respect is Officially Dead

“Inch’allah, I’ll call you when I arrive!” For uttering this harmless phrase to his uncle on the phone, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was brusquely kicked off his flight before undergoing an unnecessary and frankly humiliating interrogation with the police. Welcome to 2017, year of the FML (and discrimination, too).

He was coming home from a dinner with the U.N. Secretary General

Like an unfortunately numerous amount of people, Khairuldeen is no stranger to racial discrimination. But what the political science student at UC Berkeley, who has been living in the United States since 2010, went through last year was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Khairuldeen, a 26-year-old Iraqi refugee, was on his was coming home from a dinner with the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that had been held in Los Angeles. The event invited a handful of students for a Q&A session with the Secretary General.

The day after the event, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi boarded a flight operated by Southwest Airlines back to Oakland, and proud of having had the possibility to question General Ban Ki-moon, called his uncle in Baghdad to tell him about about the night before. They spoke, of course, in their native language, Arabic. Before hanging up, Khairuldeen concluded the conversation with, “Inch’Allah (God willing), I’ll call you when I arrive!” Nothing out of the ordinary.

A fellow passenger judged him by his appearance, and called over police officers who asked him to exit the plane.

Another passenger on the plane was a little scrupulous, or rather, racist, and judged Khairuldeen on his appearance. At first he thought that the other passenger, a woman, was staring at him because he was speaking too loudly, but after she abruptly left the plane, she was back within two minutes with police officers.

"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," Khairuldeen said in an interview with CNN.

Brace yourself, because what followed will send shivers down your spine. “The guy who came and pulled me from the plane, he took me to the jet bridge, I believe he worked with Southwest and I must say he was aggressive in the way he treated me. He was not very nice. He tried to speak to me in Arabic, but I couldn't understand his Arabic, so I asked him to speak to me in English,” followed Khairuldeen. She officer shamelessly asked him why he could be speaking in Arabic on a plane, given the “dangerous environment,” before telling Khairuldeen that he must be “be very honest with us with what you said about the martyrs,” which he, of course, had neither mentioned nor knew anything about. All this while dogs searched his belongings.

Frightened and being questioned by the FBI, Khairuldeen felt truly humiliated.

Facing these accusations, Southwest Airlines briefly commented on the incident, saying that they do not tolerate discrimination, but that it is necessary to follow certain procedures.

“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." -Southwest Airlines 

For Khairuldeen, who even after passing interrogations was refused a flight home by Southwest, having to receiving an apology in the form of a press statement is an appalling FML. “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."

By FML / Monday 9 October 2017 17:10 /
Add a comment
You must be logged in to be able to post comments!
Create my account Sign in
Top comments
  Ashamed_Sister  |  60

It wasn't fear without reason. Southwest Airlines has released a statement that says the passenger who reported Makhzoomi—for making comments in Arabic that were “perceived to be threatening” during a phone conversation with his uncle in Baghdad—was also an Arabic-speaker.
“It was the content of the passenger’s conversation, not the language used, that prompted the report leading to our investigation.”
Therefore, they started an investigation and this led to this man being removed from the plane.


I disagree. Chances are that the passenger who called the police doesn't speak Arabic, so the content of the conversation would be unknown. It is much more likely that all she understood was "Allah" and she judged him on that and the fact that he has dark skin. And there doesn't seem to be much in the way of investigation either. Otherwise, he would have been apologized to in person and given a flight home. This was blatant discrimination and reactionary.

  Ashamed_Sister  |  60

Why onceuponatime456 is so quick to decide that the airline has lied when they said an Arabic speaking passenger made the complaint? Also anyoldnamewilldo just thinks the passenger didn’t speak Arabic and, of course, everyone lied and some dreamed-up believes about evil airlines and racial discrimination are the truth. But the worst of all is that one threatening user Lalala579121. Are you just sarcastic or are you simply that stupid? There was nothing threating in my comment. Only your comment reveals your deeply disturbed perception of reality.

  Lalala579121  |  27

...Obviously you missed the point. The point of my comment was that someone could say just about anything sounds threatening. Especially if it's in a foreign language. Someone could also just say they spoke any language, and you're just going to believe them on their word alone? Even if they did speak Arabic, someone who actually speaks the language would sound very different from someone who just spoke it as a second language. The student even said that he didn't understand the officer trying to speak Arabic to him, so more than likely his dialect wouldn't have been very understood by a bystander, and on a presumably noisy plane no less.

And did you really thumb up your own comment? Lol, nice.

By  Aleesha Cox  |  4

This is getting silly now. I get being strict with the countdown pranks but this is just a language difference, just the same as saying "oh thank god" if the plane landed safely.

  historygrad74  |  10

Just because someone says Allah doesn't mean they are going to take the plane down. Are you educated? I have two master's degrees and the comments people make are so ignorant.

  Callyn  |  47

He said 'god' in a language other than English. Allah isn't exclusively used by Muslims, and even if it was that doesn't excuse this shit. This fear of all things not White American is ruining people's lives, and not just Arabs or other minorities. We need to grow the fuck up and stop this racist bullshit.

  KittyMack  |  13

It's not hard to understand. Some moronic racist a-hole figured "brown guy talking about Allah in foreign-speak = terrorism" and the staff didn't have the balls to ignore a complaint of terrorism even though it was obviously BS.
What I don't understand is why they didn't, even if they had to pull him due to protocol, quickly stick him in first class on the next flight, because surely they didn't actually BELIEVE the racist dingbat?! Look at him, he's wholesome AF.
And he's from BERKELEY!? Berkeley kids know how to demand their rights.
Like at some point don't they realize they are persecuting an innocent customer, and he's educated in how the law works, how power works... You're gonna end up jobless unless you do a 180 and suck up reallllly good. But no, they just keep treating him like shit. You know he's gonna have their hides. If he chooses to. I hope he does.

  Lalala579121  |  27

He obviously meant "I'll call you from the afterlife if god wills to send me there after I blow up this plane". Subtext is important. (Also this is sarcasm so please nobody get butthurt)

  solberner  |  4

a letter or two difference doesn't always change pronunciation of a word, more so when heard by others who aren't familiar with other languages. it may not be 'inch' for proper use but not everyone would be able to tell.
could be the reason.