An Iraq-born student of University of California-Berkeley has claimed he was asked to disembark a flight earlier this month after another passenger overheard him speaking Arabic.
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, claimed he was waiting for his Southwest Airlines flight to Oakland when he called his uncle in Baghdad to tell him about an event he attended where United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had made a speech.
As the conversation progressed, Makhzoomi recalled telling his uncle about a question he asked at the event, pertaining to the Islamic State group. Concluding the conversation, Makhzoomi used the phrase “Inshallah”, meaning “God willing”, which may have led to suspicion.
The student said the woman sitting in front of him on the plane began staring at him. “That is when I thought, ‘Oh, I hope she is not reporting me,’ ” Makhzoomi said. Following the conversation, an Arabic-speaking Southwest employee came and escorted Makhzoomi off the plane and questioned why he had been speaking Arabic. ”
This is what Islamophobia got this country into,” Makhzoomi said, which he believes is what made the man angry, after which he was told he could not get back on the plane.
A statement released by the airline said Makhzoomi was taken off the flight for questioning and the flight departed while the questioning was taking place. The airline, however, has not yet received a direct complaint from Makhzoomi and he has not responded to several attempts to reach him.
It was later reported that Makhzoomi’s family left Iraq in 2002 after his father, an Iraqi diplomat, was killed under the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
The incident was also investigated by the FBI who said no further action was necessary. Makhzoomi managed to get another flight and reached his destination eight hours later than planned. “My family and I have been through a lot, and this is just another one of the experiences I have had,” he told The New York Times. “Human dignity is the most valuable thing in the world, not money. If they apologised, maybe it would teach them to treat people equally.”
Many took to Twitter, disappointed with the airline’s decision.
This article originally appeared on Fox News.