Southwest Airlines removed a University of California, Berkeley student from a flight after another passenger overheard him speaking Arabic.
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old refugee from Iraq, was flying from Los Angeles to Oakland earlier this month when he decided to call his uncle, reported The New York Times. He said he was excited to tell family about an event heâ€™d attended where he got to ask the secretary-general of the United Nations a question.
A Southwest Airlines employee asked Makhzoomi why he was speaking Arabic and took him off of the plane, according to The Times. Then the FBI arrived.
Makhzoomi was searched and questioned by authorities about his family, the phone call, and about martyrdom, he told the Daily Californian.
A Southwest Airlines jet waits on the tarmac at Denver International Airport on Jan. 22, 2014. (Photo: Rick Wilking/The Canadian Press)
â€śThe humiliation made me so afraid,â€ť Makhzoomi said.
In a statement to media, Southwest said it regrets â€śany less than positive experience a customer has onboard our aircraftâ€ť and that the airline â€śneither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.â€ť
Itâ€™s not the first time the airline has been accused of racial profiling. Southwest already faced scrutiny this month for a similar incident.
Hakima Abdulle, a Muslim woman, was removed from their flight in Chicago after asking another passenger to switch seats.
â€śThe humiliation made me so afraid.â€ť
A flight attendant told police that Abdulle was removed because she did not â€śfeel comfortable,â€ť with her as a passenger, according to Independent. In response, the airline defended its actions and released a statement saying employees â€śfollowed proper procedures in response to this customer's actions.â€ť
Anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States has also recently surged because of the countryâ€™s election, one expert told the Daily Californian.
â€śSince 9/11, weâ€™ve seen a steady increase in anti-Muslim bias and dissemination of fear about Muslims in the United States,â€ť said Berkeley associate professor Charles Hirschkind. â€śThat trend has really spiked during this current electoral season.â€ť
Anti-Muslim crimes in Canada
In Canada, hate crimes against Muslims have more than doubled in a three-year period.
Politicians' racist rhetoric is likely a contributing factor, the National Council of Canadian Muslims told The Huffington Post Canada. â€śWhen Donald Trump says something in New York, seventh graders here hear about it,â€ť said the councilâ€™s communications director Amira Elghawaby.