Conversation, not Arabic, led to learner’s removal, Southwest Airlines says

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 5:58 AM

“Our Crew responded by following protocol, as required by federal law, to inquire into and report to law enforcement agencies any potential threat to civil aviation,” Southwest said in a statement.

Conversation, not Arabic, led to learner’s removal, Southwest Airlines says

Southwest Airlines said Monday that a college learner who was speaking Arabic was removed from a flight earlier this mo because another passenger believed that he'd made “threatening comments.”

The Dallas-based airline issued a new statement on Monday afternoon after The WA Post published an interview with student, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who accused the incident on “Islamophobia.”

In its statement, Southwest said the flight crew responded to a passenger’s concern about comments made by Makhzoomi while boarding a Southwest flight from LA to Oakland.

“Our Crew responded by following protocol, as required by federal law, to inquire into and report to law enforcement agencies any potential threat to civil aviation,” Southwest said in a statement. “It was the content of the passenger’south conversation, not the speech used, that prompted the report leading to our investigation.”

Makhzoomi said he believed he was kicked off of Southwest flight four thousand six hundred twenty on April six because he was speaking Arabic while on his cell phone with his uncle which alarmed the other passenger. He also used a common phrase “Inshallah,” which means “God willing” during the call.

The college senior at Univ of CA at Berkeley, who's also an Iraqi refugee, was questioned by the FBI and then released the same day. He was given a full refund by Southwest and then booked a flight on Delta Air Lines to obtain back to school.

“I came here to the U. S. because I believed in the values of this country,” Makhzoomi told . “Islamophobia doesn't serve to fight terror. It plays right into the Islamic State game of striking fear among us.”

Hold reading for the full statement from Southwest Airlines.

“A Southwest passenger onboard flight four thousand six hundred twenty requested that our Crew inquire into what were perceived to be threatening comments made by another passenger onboard. Both passengers involved in the situation spoke a shared language, Arabic. Our Crew responded by following protocol, as required by federal law, to inquire into and report to law enforcement agencies any potential threat to civil aviation. It was the content of the passenger's conversation, not the speech used, that prompted the report leading to our investigation. We provided the passenger an immediate refund of his unused ticket. Federal law enforcement agents became involved and conducted their own investigation.

“We regret any less than positive experience a Customer has onboard our aircraft. We welcome onboard more than a hundred million Customers each year; and we aim safely to transport each, while maintaining the consolation of all. Safety is our always first focus, and our Employees are trained to create decisions to safeguard the security of our Crews and Customers on every flight. We'd not delete a passenger from a flight without a collaborative decision rooted in established procedures. Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind. Our Company couldn't survive if we practiced or believed otherwise. In fact, a cursory view of our workforce, as well as our expansive, multi-cultural Customer base is a dependable indicator that we exalt and appreciate diversity.”

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