The Discrimination of Language
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Politics and Activism

The Discrimination of Language

We can't decide our native language, so we can't force people to into speaking the way we prefer.

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The Discrimination of Language

Some of you may have seen the video of two men being kicked off of a Delta flight in the past few weeks, and has been described as an act of racism. The story began when Adam Saleh and Slim Albaher boarded a flight from London to New York City, and Saleh made a phone call to his mother. These occurrences are not uncommon for a traveling individual, but what sparked the ultimate conclusion of their journey is what makes this story disturbing.

While on the phone with his mother, Saleh was speaking in Arabic and for those around him the language seemed to be too much to bear. In a statement released by Delta they claimed the men were kicked off for causing a disturbance while they maintain that it was their discomfort with them speaking Arabic that led to the banishment.

It may be a simple story but it is disturbing nonetheless especially as someone who grew up with an Arabic speaking father. After the stigma that has been attached to Muslims, people automatically assume any Muslim or Arabic speaking person is a threat, when it couldn't be further from the truth.

In the video of Saleh and Albaher being kicked off of the flight, you can hear the aggressive tones of the passengers who are thrilled with the expulsion of these men and although it isn't violent there is a vicious element to these tones. Other passenger's discomfort is the reason these otherwise innocent men were targeted.

I don't speak Arabic but I am the proud descendant of Egyptian immigrants who do speak Arabic, and as a girl I remember fondly listening to my dad converse with relatives on the phone. The need to speak in one's native language is important, and people should be able to do so without persecution. Unfortunately English speakers sometimes forget this unless they've been exposed to other languages.

This entire story makes me think of what could happen to my dad in a public setting if he were to speak Arabic and the discrimination he could be shown. At the airport my father is always "randomly selected" for extra screenings, when in fact he has lived in the United States for the majority of his life since arriving here at the age of 11. I know that the discrimination is there because I have witnessed it first hand and without being able to determine exactly what happened on the flight with Saleh and Albaher I do believe discrimination is to blame.

My father is not Muslim, but I do have a best friend who is, and he is faced with even more screenings at airports than my father. I respect screening processes that our country has set in place, but I think some people have mistaken screening and protection as a means to perpetuate their own discrimination.

We don't get to choose where we are born or what cultures we adopt, and so when we want to talk with a parent, or retain the mainstays of your heritage we have to respect everyone and not allow one set of ideas dominate over the rest of them.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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