Target: CEO of Southwest Airlines Gary Kelly
Goal: Apologize for employees kicking a Muslim college student from a plane because he spoke Arabic.
A Muslim college student was kicked off a Southwestern Airlines plane simply because he spoke some Arabic words. Speaking Arabic does not make someone a terrorist, and Southwest Airlines should make a formal apology for its Islamophobia.
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, was returning home from a dinner with the U.N. secretary-general. While waiting for takeoff, he called his uncle in Baghdad. They chatted in Arabic about Makhzoomi’s exciting dinner, and his uncle told him to call him again when he got back to Oakland. As is common in Muslim custom, Makhzoomi replied, “Insha’Allah insha’Allah (God willing), I will call you when I arrive.”
The woman sitting next to him reported him, and two police officers came and told him to get off the plane. He was handled aggressively by them, and one of them asked why he was speaking Arabic. Then he was searched and interrogated by FBI agents.
As an individual incident, this is terrifying–but it only gets worse. Makhzoomi later contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which told him that there was a concerning trend of Muslim-Americans receiving discriminatory treatment from airlines.
Threats can be spoken in any language, not just Arabic. To single out Arabic speakers and Muslim-Americans is discrimination and should not be tolerated. Demand that Southwest Airlines issue a formal apology to Khairuldeen Makhzoomi for its Islamophobic behavior.
Dear Mr. Kelly,
Your airline recently kicked a Muslim-American college student off an airplane just because he spoke Arabic. It is not a crime nor a sign of a terrorist to speak Arabic. To assume so is Islamophobic and beneath the dignity of your airline. What is not beneath your dignity, however, is to make a formal apology to the college student for the airline’s discriminatory behavior.
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi is far from being a terrorist. He is a student at the University of California, Berkeley, one of the top schools in the nation. The whole incident happened while he was on his way back from a dinner with the U.N. secretary-general. He is as much of an upstanding citizen as anyone could be, but he was treated like a criminal because he spoke to his uncle in Arabic and said a common phrase for Muslims to say.
It was a mistake, which of course can happen to anyone. To make up for a mistake, one must simply show remorse for one’s actions. Please apologize to Makhzoomi for the Islamophobic behavior your airline displayed to him.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Woodys Aeroimages