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Arabic-Speaking Iraqi Kicked Out of LA Flight

Arabic-Speaking Iraqi Kicked Out of LA FlightArabic-Speaking Iraqi Kicked Out of LA Flight

A young Iraqi student living in the US who was thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight wants the airline to apologize for singling him out.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old UC Berkeley student, says he spoke Arabic on the phone with his uncle while his plane waited to take off from Los Angeles International Airport, SFGate reported. Soon after, he says, a female passenger looked at him and left her seat; moments later, Southwest Airlines employees told him he must leave the plane.

Security and police officers questioned him upon exiting the aircraft, then called in the FBI. Makhzoomi was then questioned further and subjected to a series of searches and a pass by police canines.

“This is what Islamophobia looks like,” Makhzoomi told the officers, according to SFGate.

Southwest Airlines later refunded his ticket, though it told SFGate its employees had made a “collaborative decision rooted in established procedure” regarding “potentially threatening comments made aboard our aircraft.”

According to NBC News, Makhzoomi fled Iraq in 2002 after Saddam Hussein’s regime killed his diplomat father and recently attended “a dinner at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council with Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.”

Instead of money, he told NBC, “All I need is an apology, to say ‘We are sorry we singled you out because [of] one person who felt threatened.’”

Since 9/11, there has been a steady increase in anti-Muslim bias and dissemination of fear about Muslims in the US, and that trend has really spiked during the current electoral season, with the likes of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump suggesting a ban on Muslims looking to travel to the US.