UC Berkeley student removed from flight for speaking Arabic

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, says he was removed from a Southwest flight for speaking on the phone in Arabic. (CNN)

BERKELEY (KRON) — A University of California at Berkeley student claims he was taken off a Southwest plane in Los Angeles because he was speaking Arabic.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, says he was unfairly removed from the April 9 flight to Oakland.

Makhzoomi, a political science major, called his uncle in Baghdad after getting on the plane. While he waited for takeoff, they chatted in Arabic about a dinner Makhzoomi was able to attend with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to CNN.

“I just called him and talked to him about it and everything, and he told me (to) call him when I get to Oakland, and I said, ‘insha’Allah insha’Allah (God willing), I will call you when I arrive.’ And during the conversation a lady was staring at me,” Makhzoomi said.

Makhzoomi then saw the woman abruptly leave the plane. Within two minutes, a police officer came and told him to get off the plane.

“Why are you talking in Arabic? You know the environment is very dangerous,” Makhzoomi claimed he was asked by authorities.

After questioning Makhzoomi, no further action was taken. Southwest gave him a refund and he then booked a flight home on Delta.

Now, Makhzoomi just wants Southwest to apologize for the incident.

Southwest released this statement:

“To respect the privacy of those involved, we will not publicly share any further specifics of the event. We prefer to communicate directly with our customers to address concerns and feedback regarding their travel experience.”

(CNN contributed to this report)

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