BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) - The Bay Area chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, filed a formal complaint Wednesday with federal transportation officials calling for a full investigation after a U.C. Berkeley student was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for speaking Arabic.
It stems from an incident back in April, but the office just filed the complaint calling religious profiling a troubling trend and as of now, they said, Southwest Airlines has yet to issue an apology.
"I do know it was an incredibly traumatic experience for him," said Saba Maher with the Council of American Islamic Relations.
Maher represents Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who she said, is still reeling after what she calls an "outrageous" case of discrimination on a Southwest Airlines flight.
"There seems to be this idea there was nothing done wrong, there was no harm done to my client," said Maher. "However, there was a harm done. His civil liberties were violated."
Back on April 6, the Makhzoomi was boarding a flight from Los Angeles to Oakland when another passenger overheard him speaking in Arabic on the phone. Makhzoomi was then pulled off the plane by a Southwest Airlines employee, interrogated and only later to be cleared. It turns out it had been talking to his uncle.
"This is what islamophobia got this country into," said Makhzoomi, "They discriminated against a student who came to this country as an Iraqi refugee to pursue his dreams."
"There is a trend unfortunately of American Muslims being escorted off of airplanes because of their perceived religious identity," said Maher.
CAIR cites at least four other cases this year involving Muslim passengers facing similar experiences with different airlines at airports throughout the country. They are filing the complaint demanding federal authorities hold air carriers accountable.
"This type of incident and trend we are seeing tells me that perhaps our U.S. air carriers are not providing adequate diversity training to their employees," said Maher.
KTVU reached out to Southwest Airlines and did not hear back Wednesday. The airline refunded Makhzoomi's $220 flight and has stated before, they've tried to contact him but he has not responded.