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Thread: Iraqi Refugee Removed From Southwest Flight for Speaking Arabic

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    Elite Member stef's Avatar
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    Default Iraqi Refugee Removed From Southwest Flight for Speaking Arabic

    Iraqi Refugee Removed From Southwest Flight for Speaking Arabic


    Rachel Vorona Cote
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    On April 6, 2016, Iraqi refugee and UC Berkeley student Khairuldeen Makhzoomi boarded a plane to Oakland, California. Before the plane departed, he was removed, interrogated and searched by the FBI, and, when all was said and done, forced to secure a flight on a different airline. The reason: another passenger had overheard Makhzoomi speaking Arabi.

    According to The Daily Californian, “Makhzoomi, a loyal Southwest premier rewards member...called his uncle in Baghdad” before the flight took off to tell him about a dinner he had attended at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. He told his uncle “goodbye...with the phrase ‘inshallah,’ which translates to ‘if God is willing.’”

    Upon hanging up, Makhzoomi noticed that a female passenger was watching him with suspicion. When he looked back, “she got up and left her seat.”


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

    Minutes later, an airport employee arrived to remove Makhzoomi from the airplane. Makhzoomi was escorted onto the passenger boarding bridge where he was met by three security officers.
    He learned that the passenger thought she had heard the word ‘Shahid’ meaning martyr, which is associated with jihad and has been associated with terrorists.
    The conversation between Makhzoomi and the employee became complicated and political. The employee informed Makhzoomi that he was not allowed to return to the plane.
    Then Makhzoomi heard one of the security officers radio for the FBI.
    ‘At that moment I couldn’t feel anything,’ he said. ‘I was so afraid. I was so scared.’”

    Makhzoomi, who is 26 years old, left Iraq in 2002 after his father, “an Iraqi diplomat, was killed under Saddam Hussein’s regime.” Before United States granted asylum to his family, Makhzoomi lived in Jordan with his mother and younger brother. Since settling in the States he has labored for himself and for others — building “a school in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan,” helping his mother to care for his brother, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and working at the Cheesecake Factory.

    But as Makhzoomi submitted to investigation by the FBI, he was reduced to suspect and spectacle. From The Daily Californian:


    “Dozens of onlookers watched as he waited for the FBI to arrive.
    In the meantime, security officers searched his bag again and continued to ask him if he had any other luggage he was keeping secret. Makhzoomi alleged that one police officer searched his genital area and asked him if he was hiding a knife anywhere.
    ‘That is when I couldn’t handle it, and my eyes began to water,’ he said. ‘The way they searched me and the dogs, the officers, people were watching me, and the humiliation made me so afraid because it brought all of these memories back to me. I escaped Iraq because of the war, because of Saddam and what he did to my father. When I got home, I just slept for a few days.’”

    Makhzoomi made his way home on a Delta flight — Southwest refused him the possibility of rebooking via their service and instead issued him a refund.
    The airline has since provided a statement addressing—vaguely—their treatment of Makhzoomi: “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. Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.”




    Iraqi Refugee Removed From Southwest Flight for Speaking Arabic
    "This is not meant to be at all offensive: You suffer from diarrhea of the mouth but constipation of the brain." - McJag

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    Gold Member I'mNotBitter's Avatar
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    This is bullshit. That bitch.

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    I feel so bad for him,... but??? I don't know, I think airline personnel have gotten so rude in the 21st century, at least in this country. (Love flying many foreign airlines.) The thing is, as far as safety goes, airline workers kind of have to err on the side of safety at this point, don't they? I don't know the answer, it's just very messy.


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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Good grief. Hope they don't start booting passengers for speaking Spanish.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    After re-reading the article, what is truly appalling to me is that it could have been handled discreetly, without humiliating him. For that, I think he should sue them, honestly... sounds like a good test case because there has to be safety, but human dignity should not have to be sacrificed. I don't understand how Southwest could refuse him a seat after searching, etc.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindsaywhit View Post
    I feel so bad for him,... but??? I don't know, I think airline personnel have gotten so rude in the 21st century, at least in this country. (Love flying many foreign airlines.) The thing is, as far as safety goes, airline workers kind of have to err on the side of safety at this point, don't they? I don't know the answer, it's just very messy.
    Quote Originally Posted by lindsaywhit View Post
    After re-reading the article, what is truly appalling to me is that it could have been handled discreetly, without humiliating him. For that, I think he should sue them, honestly... sounds like a good test case because there has to be safety, but human dignity should not have to be sacrificed. I don't understand how Southwest could refuse him a seat after searching, etc.
    are you on crack? handle what discreetly, exactly? you say there has to be safety, but how was that safety ever threatened? and do you realise that arabic is spoken by almost 300 million people worldwide? so should they just remain mute any time they fly?
    i'd love to hear your enlightened viewpoints on how exactly speaking arabic constitutes a threat to safety.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    Ok,once in the Tube daughter and i were told off my a middle aged couple for speaking Greek.I felt like doing damage but we just moved to another carriage..It was not a nice feeling and it still bothers me .I feel for any body treated like shit just because they speak their mother tongue..
    "Effie is all kinds of awesome." - Some internet moderator


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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    but effie, what about security?! clearly you and your daughter were a threat...
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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    clearly..lol.we are widely accused of being lazy and this is catching,you know..
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    Elite Member kasippu's Avatar
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    That is nonsense.
    But I have to admit, a muslim lady was sitting opposite to me on my last flight (in my defence although I have none but I try, MANY of my friends are muslim) and starts praying frantically and crying and praying again. I was probably watching her like this, until I realised this woman was super sad maybe she lost a loved one and I felt like shit. Fuck you, terrorists, to make me a asshole like that!
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    Elite Member effie2's Avatar
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    I pray in flights to any god at hand..no discrimination..only because i am scared shitless.I do get some stares but my traveling companions will explain while i glare at them between prayers..
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    Elite Member kasippu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by effie2 View Post
    I pray in flights to any god at hand..no discrimination..only because i am scared shitless.I do get some stares but my traveling companions will explain while i glare at them between prayers..

    Lol maybe I was staring at you.
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    Elite Member Kittylady's Avatar
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    I do not like flying. Do. Not. Like. I'm with effie; I'd pray to Tom Fucking Cruise if I thought it would increase the chances of us making it to our destination safely.

    Also what does it say about the confidence in all these airport security systems that are supposedly in place if they are going to yank people off planes for merely speaking in Arabic?
    effie2 likes this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    are you on crack? handle what discreetly, exactly? you say there has to be safety, but how was that safety ever threatened? and do you realise that arabic is spoken by almost 300 million people worldwide? so should they just remain mute any time they fly?
    i'd love to hear your enlightened viewpoints on how exactly speaking arabic constitutes a threat to safety.
    Well, when you put it like that - you are absolutely right. I don't even have the excuse of crack. I'm sorry, what stupid, moronic blather. Thanks for the smackdown. Truly.

    eta: Sputnik, I tried to send you a pm, but your box is full. I'll try again later.
    Last edited by lindsaywhit; April 28th, 2016 at 11:35 AM.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^^
    No worries

    i'll empty my inbox as soon as I get on the computer.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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