“Inshallah,” a UC Berkeley student told his uncle while waiting for his Southwest Airlines flight to take off. “I’ll call you when I land.”
That was all it took -- a few words in Arabic -- for Southwest Airlines to yank Khairuldeen Makhzoomi off his flight, call the FBI, interrogate and restrain him and be asked, point blank, everything he knew about “martyrdom.”
This humiliating experience is nothing short of despicable Islamophobia -- and Southwest is beginning to develop a bit of a habit for it. This was the second time in a week Southwest pulled perfectly innocent passengers off their flight for the crime of "flying while Muslim."
This has got to stop. Tell Southwest Airlines to stop racial profiling and kick Islamophobia off its airplanes.
Khairuldeen’s father was a diplomat murdered by Saddam Hussein’s regime. His family fled the country as refugees in 2002 and ended up in the United States in 2010. He is a double major at Berkeley and spent the previous evening attending a speech by Ban Ki-Moon. But none of this mattered to Southwest -- all that mattered was that one woman who doesn’t know how Arabic speakers say goodbye felt uncomfortable.
In a time where Donald Trump and others are whipping up racial hatred in order to win elections, we need to fight back against all kinds of discrimination. Especially when Southwest doesn’t seem to be getting the message. The same week Khairuldeen was kicked off, a Maryland woman was kicked off a Seattle-bound flight for wearing a headscarf. There have been at least six reported cases of Muslims being pulled off flights so far this year.
Southwest: Kick hate off your flights, not Muslims. Take responsibility for your Islamophobic practices and revise your policies and training.