(BERKELEY, Calif) -- A University of California at Berkeley student from Iraq says he was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight in California for speaking Arabic, according to the BBC.
The airline said in a statement Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was removed from the flight on April 9 before it took off.
But, Makhzoomi told the New York Times that he was speaking with his uncle on the phone about going to a speech by United Nations General Ban Ki-Moon.
"I was very excited about the event, so I called my uncle to tell him about it," Makhzoomi told The New York Times.
Another passenger started staring at him when he used the phrase "inshallah," which means "god willing" in the conversation, he said.
As he was being escorted off the plane, Makhzoomi said, "This is what Islamophobia got this country into," according to the BBC.
The BBC reports Makhzoomi came into the country as an Iraqi refugee before enrolling as a student at the University of California at Berkeley.
Southwest said in a statement that the airline removed Makzoomi for "potentially threatening comments made aboard our aircraft" and that the airline does not tolerate discrimination.
"Human dignity is the most valuable thing in the world, not money," Makhzoomi told The New York Times. "If they apologized, maybe it would teach them to treat people equally."
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