You’re like the office cool kid if you can speak more than one language. It’s like the party trick that never gets old. But if that second language is Arabic or anything Arabic-sounding? GOOD LUCK, BUDDY. You might just find yourself kicked out of an establishment, or off of a plane.
This weekend, 26-year-old Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a UC Berkeley student and the son of a slain Iraqi diplomat, was not only escorted off a plane, but also interrogated by the FBI.
His crime, aside from being Middle Eastern, was speaking in Arabic. A passenger overheard him talking on the phone with his uncle before take off, and for whatever reason, her first instinct was to report him to the flight attendant.
I mean, you could think of a number of counter examples for how ridiculous the other passenger’s actions were.
Middle-age white guy walk by an elementary school? QUICK TURN OFF YOUR BRAIN, AND TELL THE AUTHORITIES IT’S A PEDOPHILE.
Emotional looking white kid walks into a high school dressed in black? 911, WE HAVE A SCHOOL SHOOTER ON OUR HANDS.
Thankfully, most of us are smarter than this (unless you’re one of the 2016 Presidential candidates; here’s looking at you, Donald Trump//Ted Cruz//Republicans. Cough, cough.)
However, in the case of Mr. Makhzoomi, what happens next is even more ridiculous–the flight attendant kicked him off the flight, and proceeded to call the authorities.
Makhzoomi was told that the passenger thought she heard him say “shahid,” a term meaning “martyr.”
What he had actually said was “in shaa Allah,” a term that means “if God wills it,” which is one of the (oh so scary) things that Muslims say all the time. Like multiple times daily.
Muslim 1: “Tell your mom I said hello!”
Muslim 2: “In shaa Allah!”
Muslim 1: “Let’s go out for dinner tomorrow.”
Muslim 2: “In shaa Allah!”
This is very likely the Islamophobic thought process that went down when the passenger heard him speaking Arabic:
1) Hear Arabic being spoken. Automatically assume they’re Muslim. You know, because there are no Arabic speaking Christians, like ever. Only Muslims speak Arabic.
2) Muslims are scary. They want to blow sh*t up, kill infidels, and take over the world. OMG, sharia law.
3) Therefore, whatever he just said, had to be related terrorism. Hmm…it had a “sha” in it. OMG, “shahid,” the word for martyr, saw that on Fox News! OMG, knew it! Total terrorist alert!
Congrats, paranoid Southwest passenger. You thwarted Khairuldeen Makhzoomi’s ever-so-sinister plot…to make it back to his college classes on time.
Makhzoomi was subjected to an intimate body search–meaning his genitals were searched–in front of other travelers, and he was searched by a police dog. He was interrogated about his family, and his travel plans, and asked if he was carrying a knife. All because he was speaking in a language that someone couldn’t understand.
“I had an emotional breakdown and cried a little bit,” Makhzoomi said, as reported by the SFGate. “I was so afraid. I was so scared.”
Hours later, after authorities finally decided speaking Arabic wasn’t a crime, he was refunded his ticket and allowed to leave.
Makhzoomi is requesting an apology from the airline.
We are requesting that they smarten up.