“Human dignity is the most valuable thing in the world.”

These were the words of 26-year-old Khairuldeen Makhzoomi after he declined taking legal action against Southwest Airlines after being kicked off of a flight for speaking Arabic last Sunday. Makhzoomi was calling his uncle in Baghdad to tell him about his experiences at an event where the United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon spoke.

After he finished his phone call, he caught a female passenger staring at him in a skeptical manner. She then proceeded to get a flight attendant to escort him off of the plane. Makhzoomi felt as though the attendant treated him like “an animal,” according to a New York Times article.

When I heard about this horribly unfair treatment, I was honestly embarrassed to be an American. There are so many other countries out there that have experienced Islamic-based terrorism, and yet they are not acting like terrified, discriminating and hateful human beings. Islamophobia is a serious problem in our country and is affecting any chance at all that we have at blending cultures and learning tolerance.

All too often, I’ll hear people blame the entire Islamic religion for all world violence. What kind of world do we live in where we feel threatened by a language just because we don’t understand it? How archaic is that?

A completely innocent man was treated poorly and unfairly, simply for speaking his native tongue.

I’m so sick of people clumping a certain race or religion together. Some people are so afraid that they’ll look at a person in a hijab and automatically think “terrorist.” They’ll look at anyone who looks even remotely Middle Eastern and panic — God forbid they hear Arabic spoken at all.

The problem is not with Islam at all, despite the religion of certain terror groups. The problem is not with Islam as a whole. The problem is each troubled individual who sets out to kill.

We absolutely need to start realizing the difference or else we’ll find ourselves in a community that lacks diversity and preaches hatred toward other cultures and customs.

It seems as if there’s a shooting or devastation almost every day in the United States. Why aren’t Caucasian Christians given a double-take in other countries? Dangerous individuals exist amongst us daily, and yet the only ones we’re concerned with are the ones who don’t look or speak like us. It’s shoving our society progressively backward.

Fearing other races and religions is a stepping stone to rewriting history. I used to wonder how in the world we could imprison innocent people in internment camps during times of war. Now, I’m beginning to see it was because people were living in fear that every person resembled the “enemy,” so we established the power to hold them captive. It was all out of fear.

What happened on the Southwest flight was just a small snapshot into the lives of people who are constantly being discriminated against and wrongly feared. I can only hope that this instance shows the rest of America how foolish and disgraceful Islamophobia is.

Email Courtney Casey at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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