CAIR-SFBA Files DOT Complaint Against Southwest Airlines for Religious and Racial Profiling

For Immediate Release


CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857, E-Mail:; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail:

CAIR-SFBA Files DOT Complaint Against Southwest Airlines for Religious and Racial Profiling

SANTA CLARA, CA. - 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.

Share This Article