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