Two Men Temporarily Kept Off of Flight at Midway International Airport After Being Overheard Speaking Arabic
While the entire world is on high-alert in light of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, a misunderstanding at a Chicago airport has left many wondering where the line should be drawn between security and discrimination.
According to the Daily Mail, two Palestinian men were waiting to board a flight from Chicago to Philadelphia in Midway International Airport on Wednesday when fellow passengers overheard them speaking Arabic.
The two men, Maher Khalil and Anas Ayyad, were simply a pizza shop owner from Philadelphia and his friend who were conversing in their native language. A gate agent informed the friends that they would not be allowed on the Southwest flight because passengers feared for their safety.
Khalil immediately called airport security himself to rectify the situation, and after the two were questioned by police, they were finally allowed on the plane.
Unfortunately, the incident didn’t end there. Passengers made Khalil show them the contents of a white box he was holding as he boarded the plane. The box held only some delicious Greek desserts.
“So I shared my baklava with them,” said Khalil.
Similar incidents occur on a regular basis, but the recent tragedy in Paris has left many to assume the worst in airports. An average of eight million people fly every single day, and the likelihood of some passengers speaking Arabic or other Middle Eastern languages is extremely high, which makes detaining every single one of them a questionable tactic.
According to Yahoo! News, there have been several instances of discrimination in airports since the Paris attacks. Midway Airport was the site of another misunderstanding in which six men identified by fellow passengers as Middle Eastern were removed from a Southwest flight after they asked to switch seats, which caused widespread panic and commotion.
In another incident, a Spirit Airlines flight en route to Minneapolis was diverted after a young passenger “heard what she believed to be a conversation during which the subject made a remark about blowing up the plane,” which was later found to be a false claim.
As for the misunderstanding involving Khalil and Ayyad, Southwest Airlines said in a statement that the flight departed after airline employees “completed conversations with customers who approached us during the boarding process.” The company provided no further details on the incident.