Man questioned and misses flight for speaking Tamil

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Oct 4 10:33:39 UTC 2006


I wonder if  a "white" Euro-American speaking Tamil on a cellphone at
Sea-Tac Airport would have suffered the same indignity? I should try it some
time and see what happens...


On 10/3/06, Harold F. Schiffman <haroldfs at> wrote:
> Man questioned and misses flight for speaking Tamil
> A 32-year-old man speaking Tamil and some English about a sporting rivalry
> was questioned at Sea-Tac Airport and missed his flight Saturday because
> at least one person thought he was suspicious. The Port of Seattle
> dispatched its police officers to investigate the case, which occurred
> Saturday around noon, said Bob Parker, airport spokesman. The Chicago man
> was preparing to board an American Airlines flight to Dallas/Fort Worth
> International Airport. The man was speaking Tamil, a language largely used
> in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore, on his cell phone at the departure gate
> and on the aircraft. An off-duty airline employee heard the conversation
> and informed the flight crew.
> The man also apparently said something in English about a sporting rivalry
> at his alma mater. "It's a big misunderstanding," said Parker. "He had a
> perfectly innocent explanation that all added up." Parker said it is
> incumbent on airport officials to investigate reports of suspicious
> activity. "It's hard to triage over the phone," he said. But Parker had no
> explanation as to why a man speaking Tamil, which is spoken worldwide,
> would be considered suspicious. The person who contacted airport officials
> could give an answer to that question, he added.
> Parker said the man was cooperative and boarded a later flight to Texas.
> He told officials that he would not speak in a foreign language on his
> cell phone at an airport in the future.
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