A COLLEGE student was recently escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight after a fellow passenger said she heard him making comments in Arabic that were “potentially threatening.”
In a statement, Southwest Airlines said that the student, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who came to the United States as a refugee from Iraq, was removed for the “content of the passenger’s conversation” and not his language choice.
Mr. Makhzoomi wasn’t ranting about death, terror, Trump or artisanal mayonnaise — any of which might warrant such a drastic response.
No. What he said on the phone right before the passenger expressed concern, he later explained, was the Arabic phrase “inshallah,” which translates as “God willing.”
This trisyllabic, Semitic weapon of mass destruction is a hallmark of the Arabic vernacular. Some anti-Muslim bigots in recent years have argued Arabic is “the spearhead of an ideological project that is deeply opposed to the United States,” one that seeks to replace the United States Constitution with a halal cart menu. Most sane individuals, however, believe Arabic is simply a language that millions of people around the world speak.
But now Arabic has become a nightmare that terrorizes passengers at 30,000 feet. In November, two men said they were questioned before boarding a Southwest flight because a few passengers heard them speak Arabic and were afraid to fly with them. Several years ago, six imams were kicked off a plane for what fellow passengers deemed suspicious behavior, including praying in Arabic near the gate.