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Civil rights groups suggest compensation for victims of racial profiling on planes

Civil rights groups suggest compensation for victims of racial profiling on planes
Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a UC Berkeley student, says he was unfairly removed from a flight at Los Angeles International Airport because a fellow passenger was alarmed by a conversation he was having in Arabic. (Haven Daley/Associated Press)

Airlines, airport screeners and civil rights advocates all agree that air travelers should not be profiled based on their race or religion.

Now two civil rights organizations are suggesting that airline passengers who are unfairly profiled should be compensated by the carrier.

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Muslim Advocates and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund wrote to the U.S. Department of Transportation this week, asking the agency to investigate and publicly report all cases involving Muslim or other minorities who say they were detained, questioned or removed from planes based on racial or religious profiling.

Such recent incidents include a Muslim college student, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport after he was overheard saying something during a phone conversation that alarmed another Arabic-speaking passenger.

If an airline is found to have unfairly profiled a passenger based on race or religion, Muslim Advocates and the NAACP suggest the federal agency require that the airline pay an "appropriate financial compensation for the victims."

The groups also want the airlines to require anti-discrimination training for flight crews.

The Transportation Department said it already has the power to investigate and fine airlines over discrimination claims but the agency can only force carriers to compensate the victims if the compensation is part of a settlement agreement with the airline.

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