A Berkeley student is asking Southwest Airlines for a public apology after an embarrassing act of Islamophobia resulted in him being booted from his flight to Oakland. The student, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, was speaking in Arabic during a phone conversation with his uncle as he awaited takeoff when a nearby passenger suddenly exited the craft to report him. "I can't believe how fast they were," Makhzoomi told CNN.
The 26-year-old political science student was speaking to his uncle about his attendance at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council with Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon when, according to the Huffington Post, he said "inshallah," meaning "if God is willing." Makhzoomi later learned that the passenger who reported him had apparently misheard this as "shahid," meaning martyr.
The Iraqi refugee, who escaped his country after his father was killed under the regime of Saddam Hussein, was escorted off the plane and back inside the airport. After being detained, the student was questioned by FBI officers about the friendly phone conversation and his bags. The situation reached its peak, Makhzoomi said, when officers "searched his genital area" for a knife. "My eyes began to water," Makhzoomi told the Post.
Since getting kicked of the flight nearly two weeks ago, Makhzoomi hasn't received an apology from Southwest for the mistreatment. "We should challenge terrorism not with ignorance but with education and knowledge," Makhzoomi proposed, with the "ignorance" in question currently on full display in a variety of presidential candidates' everyday rhetoric. Southwest issued a statement to the Post, though its content certainly don't qualify as anything even vaguely resembling an apology. "We regret any less than positive experience a customer has on Southwest," the statement concluded, perhaps missing the whole point.