By Justin Worland
April 19, 2016

An Arabic-speaking passenger who has demanded an apology after being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight was removed for “comments perceived to be threatening,” the airline said in a statement Tuesday.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, 26, has said that he was kicked off a plane earlier this month while having an innocuous conversation with his uncle in Arabic. But Southwest says a nearby passenger who also spoke Arabic perceived the conversation to be threatening and alerted airline officials, the company said in a statement.

“It was the content of the passenger’s conversation, not the language used, that prompted the report leading to our investigation,” the airline said in a statement. “We regret any less than positive experience a Customer has onboard our aircraft.

The situation prompted widespread criticism of Southwest and accusations of islamophobia. A message to Makhzoomi and a call to his family’s home were not returned immediately.

Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com.

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