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7 Oct, 2016

Complaint Filed Against Southwest Airlines for anti-Muslim Religious and Racial Profiling

(SANTA CLARA, CA, 10/5/2016) – (CAIR media release) – The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) today filed a complaint with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings against Southwest Airlines for racial and religious profiling of a Muslim passenger.

In its complaint, CAIR-SFBA Civil Rights Coordinator Saba Maher stated: “We write to request a federal investigation on behalf on behalf of our client, Mr. Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who was removed from a Southwest Airlines fight for speaking Arabic while sitting in a plane.”


On April 6, 2016, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a college student at the University of California, Berkeley, was removed from Southwest Airlines after another passenger overhead him speaking Arabic on the phone. Makhzoomi was taken off Flight 4620 from Los Angeles International Airport to Oakland International Airport after making a brief call to his uncle and concluding the call with a common Islamic phrase in Arabic, “inshallah,” meaning “God willing.”

Shortly after making that call, an Arabic-speaking Southwest Airlines employee approached Mr. Makhzoomi and escorted him off the plane, asked him why he was speaking in Arabic considering today’s “political climate.” The Southwest Airlines employee then informed Makhzoomi that he would not be boarding the plane again.

SEE: Arabic-Speaking Student Kicked Off Southwest Flight

CAIR-SFBA is calling on the DOT to hold Southwest Airlines accountable for their actions against Makhzoomi.

In her letter to the DOT, Maher, wrote: “By removing Mr. Makhzoomi from his flight solely because he spoke in his native Arabic language, Southwest Airlines discriminated against Mr. Makhzoomi in violation of 49 U.S.C.S. § 40127(a), which prohibits an air carrier from subjecting “a person in air transportation to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry.”

CAIR-SFBA is calling on the DOT to “help guarantee that U.S. air carriers will remain in compliance with federal law prohibiting discrimination.”

CAIR has recently dealt with a number of reports of profiling of Muslim travelers.

SEE: CAIR-Cincinnati to Announce Religious Profiling Complaint Against Delta Airlines

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization publishes a “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” pocket guide that includes a section on “Your Rights as an Airline Passenger.”

CAIR: Your Rights as an Airline Passenger

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Editor’s Comment

Let the record show that not a single international travel, transport or aviation organisation has done anything to address this growing menace. Double-standards are alive and well. If the LGBT community is the victim of discrimination, a big hoo-haa follows. If Muslims are discriminated against, nothing happens. Shame, shame on the entire industry and its leadership for this blind-spot.

  • Kevin B Murphy

    Editor’s note is at risk of being as discriminatory as the point of his note tries to make. “Let the record show that not a single international travel, transport or aviation organisation has done anything to address this growing menace.” – a little overdramatic for what was a poorly managed, and localised, clearly paranoid reaction from likely an uninformed complaint. I am sure that there are many ‘international travel, transport or aviation organisations” elsewhere , across the world and here in Asia, who actively prevent and take a proper stand against the risk of such discrimination on a daily and continuing basis. Don’t condemn the whole industry for such extreme poor behaviour if you want to be taken seriously. And why the choice of the LGBT aspect comparison as a further grievance? Do they, as a community, not meet the author’s own personal approval in any way? We can never educate or eradicate such poor handling of other human beings, if all we do is seek to re-act in any similar manner that might likely also be seen as discriminatory of others. It was clearly a grave error and one that should be condemned, just not perhaps solely in this manner used.