Muslim Student Kicked Off Plane Deserves Justice

Target: Gary Kelly, President and CEO of Southwest Airlines

Goal: Apologize for wrongfully harassing and removing Muslim student from his flight.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old student at the University of California, Berkeley, was removed from his flight on Southwest Airlines in Los Angeles and interrogated by airport security after another passenger raised suspicions about him speaking Arabic on his cell phone. Makhzoomi was speaking to his uncle on his phone when a passenger near him allegedly made eye contact with him and got out of her seat to raise her concerns to the flight crew. Shortly after, a Southwest employee removed him from the flight and brought him back into the airport to security, where guards with police dogs and FBI agents interrogated him about his phone call and his luggage in front of dozens of onlookers.

Makhzoomi, a political science and Near Eastern literature student at UC Berkeley, described the incident as humiliating, and stated that he was practically brought to tears when the officers reportedly began to search his genital area to see if he was hiding a weapon. What Kairuldeen Makhzoomi went through is dehumanizing, and is a violation of his human rights.

Makhzoomi fled Iraq in 2002 when his father, a diplomat, was killed under Saddam Hussein’s regime. He has reportedly been remarkably humble with this recent experience, and has only requested that Southwest Airlines apologize to him. The company put out an apathetic statement saying that the officers followed “protocol” and that they “regret any less than positive experience a customer has on Southwest.” What happened to Mazkhzoomi is a direct result of the Islamophobia that plagues this country. Sign the petition letter to demand Southwest Airlines admit their terrible mistake and apologize to Kairuldeen Makhzoomi.


Dear Mr. Kelly,

What happened to Kairuldeen Makhzoomi is an unfortunate reminder of just how much Islamophobia has damaged how this country treats Muslims. Makhzoomi was removed from a Southwest flight for having a conversation over the phone about a dinner he had with a family member. I don’t think there could be a clearer example of Islamophobia triggering a violation of human rights.

The statement your company made was both apathetic and disgraceful. There was no threat on that flight. Yet, because a passenger allegedly felt she was in danger because a man near her was speaking Arabic, is it protocol to remove that man from the flight and publicly degrade him? Makhzoomi has reportedly been extremely kind and has merely asked for a proper apology.

Makhzoomi has said that, “I only hate one thing in my life: Islamic State. We should challenge terrorism not with ignorance but with education and knowledge.” He is stating something that is vital to fighting the terrorists that plague the Middle East. Our country is only making those terrorists more powerful by fearing and attacking millions of innocent Muslims. We demand that you recognize your mistake and apologize to Kairuldeen Makhzoomi.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ken Lund

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