Another Arab kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight #HummusHaters
With all the anti-Arab bashing we see in the news every week, Arab America is determined to expose those who discriminate against our community. We will recognize those who vilify the positive influence and contributions Arabs have made to the fabric of American society. And we will use hummus as our weapon. By naming those who vilify the Arab American community as #HummusHaters, we can express our culture positively while showing intolerance to bigotry.
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, an Iraqi refugee and senior at the University of California, Berkley, was on a flight from Los Angeles to Oakland on April 6. While boarding the flight Makhzoomi spoke on the phone with his uncle who lives in Baghdad in his native language, Arabic, and was quickly kicked off the flight for doing so.
Makhzoomi was talking to his uncle about an event he recently attended with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, where he was fortunate enough to be chosen to ask a question about ISIL to the world leader. Makhzoomi also talked about the chicken dinner he ate at the event, then gave his uncle reassurance that he would call after landing safely in Oakland.
The phone call ended with Makhzoomi saying “Inshallah” to his uncle – a common way to end a conversation in Arabic, meaning “God willing.” The woman sitting in front of Makhzoomi who heard this conversation got up and reported the student to a Southwest Airlines employee.
Ironically, it was an Arabic-speaking Southwest Airlines employee who approached Makhzoomi about his “potentially threatening comments made aboard our aircraft.” The employee asked why the Iraqi refugee was speaking Arabic and he responded by saying “This is what Islamophobia got this country into,” which upset the employee and got Makhzoomi kicked off the aircraft.
The employee called the FBI. Three agents and a police dog showed up and interrogated Makhzoomi. The FBI agents told him that the female passenger heard him talking about “martyrdom” and using “jihadist phrases.” After revealing that this was not true, the Arabic-speaking employee refunded Makhzoomi’s ticket.
The California student isn’t pressing charges, but wants an apology, which Southwest has yet to offer. Brandy King, a Southwest spokesperson, said they are not responsible for the conduct of their employees, but added, “We regret any less than positive experience a customer has onboard our aircraft. Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.”
Unfortunately, this story has many hummus haters:
- The female passenger who apparently knows just enough Arabic to spot a “jihadist” when she hears one is definitely a hummus hater.
- This is the second time in two weeks that an Arabic-speaking passenger was kicked off a Southwest flight, making the airline the biggest member of the hummus haters club to date.
- The Southwest employee who took offense to the Islamophobia accusation and kicked Makhzoomi off the plane… maybe the attendant hasn’t had homemade hummus in a while because if he truly were an Arabic speaker, he wouldn’t have heard anything wrong with the phone call. Los Angeles Arabs need to send some hummus to the Southwest employee quickly because it seems he forgot that hummus is part of his DNA.