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  1. #1
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    Berkeley student questioned, refused service after speaking Arabic on flight


    Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

    Update 04/15/2016: This article has been updated to reflect a response from Southwest Airlines.

    On April 6, UC Berkeley senior Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was supposed to fly from Los Angeles to Oakland, get to campus and go to class. Instead, Makhzoomi was removed from Southwest Airlines flight 4260, detained by security officers, questioned by the FBI and refused service from Southwest after speaking Arabic before his flight took off.

    Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old Iraqi refugee, left Iraq in 2002 after his father, an Iraqi diplomat, was killed under Saddam Hussein’s regime. His family fled to Jordan, where they lived until the United States granted his family asylum. Today, Makhzoomi helps his mother care for his younger brother, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

    One day prior to the incident, Makhzoomi attended a dinner at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council with Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.

    On his way back to Berkeley, Makhzoomi, a loyal Southwest premier rewards member, boarded his flight to Oakland and called his uncle in Baghdad to tell him about Ki-moon’s event. At the end of the phone call, conducted in Arabic, Makhzoomi said goodbye to his uncle with the phrase “inshallah,” which translates to “if God is willing.”

    When Makhzoomi hung up, he noticed a female passenger looking at him. Once he made eye contact with her, 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 was removed from the jet bridge and taken back to the gate where more security officers, police dogs and Southwest staff awaited him. 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 publicly 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.”

    When the FBI arrived, Makhzoomi said they began questioning him about his family, the phone call he made on the plane and everything he knew about martyrism. After the interrogation was over, an FBI agent informed Makhzoomi that Southwest would not fly him home. Makhzoomi collected his refund and left Terminal 1 to process what had happened.

    Makhzoomi called Southwest on Monday and they ensured his status was clear but offered him no apology. He said he considered filing a lawsuit against Southwest but decided against it.

    “I don’t want money,” he said. “I don’t care about that. All I want is an apology.”

    A statement from Southwest Airlines says that prior to departure, the flight crew decided to investigate “potentially threatening comments” made by Makhzoomi aboard the aircraft.

    “We wouldn’t remove passengers from flights without a collaborative decision rooted in established procedures,” the statement reads. “We regret any less than positive experience onboard our aircraft. … Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.”

    Charles Hirschkind, a campus associate professor of anthropology who specializes in Islam and the Middle East, said prejudice against Muslims has institutional effects that manifest in airport security strategies and general police suspicion.

    “Since 9/11, we’ve seen a steady increase in anti-Muslim bias and dissemination of fear about Muslims in the United States. That trend has really spiked during this current electoral season,” Hirschkind said. “Candidates have said things like Muslims should not be allowed to immigrate to this country. … All of these kinds of statements really ramp up both the level of fear and also the level of bias and prejudice and racism that Muslims face.”

    Since he arrived in the United States, Makhzoomi has worked at a Cheesecake Factory, built a school in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, worked his way through community college, transferred to UC Berkeley where he is part of Model United Nations and the Berkeley Political Review and currently writes for the Huffington Post.

    This summer, Makhzoomi will be representing Iraq at the Young Leaders Visitors Programme at the Swedish Institute. Makhzoomi said he hopes to one day return to Iraq, which will always be his home.

    “I want to help the situation there as best as I can, and I will begin by focusing on education,” he said. “We need to cross the bridge when it comes to our differences and try to promote tolerance and harmony among Iraqi peoples.”

    UC Berkeley student questioned, refused service after speaking Arabic on flight | The Daily Californian

  2. #2
    Molecular Mixup
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    Sadams gone now why don't he piss off back there?

    He's unemployed but flying around..

    He's done his bit to soften the West up he must be proud

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    ^ oh but Blue, he has a Down syndrome family member that he cares for, that softens our hearts.
    He's now a poster boy for the U.N propagander machine

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    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    America - Land of the Terrorized. Bet the old bag that reported him is real proud of doing her Christian duty.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton View Post
    America - Land of the Terrorized. Bet the old bag that reported him is real proud of doing her Christian duty.
    She'll be wagging her tail. "well he were spaking dat mooooslim language so must be a terrorist. Ma lord, Nancy, I just saved the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands of innocent Americans"


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    He learned that the passenger thought she had heard the word “Shahid,” meaning martyr
    It goes to show that a little knowledge is sometimes worse than no knowledge.

  7. #7
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    but offered him no apology. He said he considered filing a lawsuit against Southwest but decided against it.
    He should sue their bigoted asses to hell and back.

  8. #8
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    ^I totally agree. It's really too bad one can't go after the racist fear-mongers like the old bitch who started this with her fluent Fox News grasp of Arabic. Those are the kunts who really deserve suing.

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    Almost straight out of that Borat movie "The Dictator".

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    He learned that the passenger thought she had heard the word “Shahid,” meaning martyr
    It goes to show that a little knowledge is sometimes worse than no knowledge.
    What a load of bollocks, I bet the only Arabic she's ever heard is "Allah O Akbar", and that's off Fox News.

  11. #11
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    He learned that the passenger thought she had heard the word “Shahid,” meaning martyr
    It goes to show that a little knowledge is sometimes worse than no knowledge.
    What a load of bollocks, I bet the only Arabic she's ever heard is "Allah O Akbar", and that's off Fox News.
    That sounds plausible - she hears "inshaallah" and thinks it's "allahu akbar" (which is still harmless in itself). But according to the article, 'shahid' was the trigger word for her.
    signature

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly View Post
    but offered him no apology. He said he considered filing a lawsuit against Southwest but decided against it.
    He should sue their bigoted asses to hell and back.
    Yep, if nothing else, there was no reason to refuse passage after he was cleared.

    Also sad, but not unexpected, are the demeaning, hateful comments from the peanut gallery here.

  13. #13
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post

    But according to the article, 'shahid' was the trigger word for her.
    I very much doubt that one in a million Americans knows the meaning of 'shahid'......or less.

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    I'm guessing "shahid" was introduced into the story only later in a lame attempt to justify the overreaction.

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    After many years of being inconvenienced whilst travelling by the sometimes illogical and timewasting security screening and identity checks thanks to the behaviour of our Muslim friends, when I read of a Muslim person being inconvenienced by the act of a non Muslim I must guiltily admit that I am overcome with the warm satisfying glow of schadenfreude.

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    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Mann View Post
    I'm guessing "shahid" was introduced into the story only later in a lame attempt to justify the overreaction.
    Perhaps, but you would think they'd choose a better word if that were the case. Why not bomb? At least it would be inappropriate in the situation.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Mann
    “I don’t want money,” he said. “I don’t care about that. All I want is an apology.”
    Seems a bit strange that they would not apologise when it turned out to be a false alarm.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hans Mann View Post
    I'm guessing "shahid" was introduced into the story only later in a lame attempt to justify the overreaction.
    I reckon.

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    I think "silence is golden" is the best policy these days in airports and aeroplanes... just get it over with, smile, eat, drink, sleep, don't even both taking much stuff. The way its heading we'll all have to strip and put orange jumpsuits on to get onboard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by taxexile View Post
    After many years of being inconvenienced whilst travelling by the sometimes illogical and timewasting security screening and identity checks thanks to the behaviour of our Muslim friends, when I read of a Muslim person being inconvenienced by the act of a non Muslim I must guiltily admit that I am overcome with the warm satisfying glow of schadenfreude.
    How many times have you been refused your flight after they found nothing wrong with you or your luggage?

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    once, when we were hauled off a flight from chiang mai to mae hong son because a couple of thai politicians "needed" (wanted) the seats.

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    Quote Originally Posted by taxexile View Post
    After many years of being inconvenienced whilst travelling by the sometimes illogical and timewasting security screening and identity checks thanks to the behaviour of our Muslim friends, when I read of a Muslim person being inconvenienced by the act of a non Muslim I must guiltily admit that I am overcome with the warm satisfying glow of schadenfreude.
    Why don't white people have to bear collective responsibility?

    Like Brits for the slave trade, Americans for dropping a nuclear bomb, Germans for the nazi's and Canadians for Shania Twain?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by taxexile View Post
    After many years of being inconvenienced whilst travelling by the sometimes illogical and timewasting security screening and identity checks thanks to the behaviour of our Muslim friends, when I read of a Muslim person being inconvenienced by the act of a non Muslim I must guiltily admit that I am overcome with the warm satisfying glow of schadenfreude.
    Why don't white people have to bear collective responsibility?

    Like Brits for the slave trade, Americans for dropping a nuclear bomb, Germans for the nazi's and Canadians for Shania Twain?
    I would point out that all the inconvenience has nothing to do with my muslims friends, and that they are just as inconvenienced... but ahh, what's the point.

    Dem god dammned mooooooooslims
    Originally Posted by bsnub "No wonder I drive a tesla"

  24. #24
    Molecular Mixup
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    Dear me ..
    teakdoor members queuing up to side with this uppity entitled wog

    Either he got thrown off was on purpose, so his ilk can in future carry bombs on flights with impunity ie doing his little bit for the Caliphate
    or
    it was a classic case of loud mouthed immigrant, shouting like he owned the place.
    Have you even seen one speaking softly into their phone or at each other ?
    No thought not .
    The lady taught him a lesson.
    If an American was shouting down his phone, about say, a product that BOMBED,
    he get taken aside
    So why shouldn't Mr Fuzzy Wuzzie ???????

    Why didn't he make this statement afterwards instead of bawling like a baby ?

    '' I'd like to say a big thanks to the USA for letting my family and I escape Saddam Hussain; and even stay here though Iraq is now safe.
    I understand my situation was ultimately caused by bad Muslims actions , therefore I hold no grudge against the airline or other passengers.
    I don't want any silly publicity, don't need an apology , and I would refuse compensation.
    When my studies are complete I will return to Iraq to make room In America for the next wave of needy refugees.''

  25. #25
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    I was trying to think just what to say. Then I looked up and I saw your avatar with this
    "Molecular Mixup"

    No shit Sherlock....

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