Divanee Magazine Editors Blog

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Did you hear the one about the Sri Lankan…?

…You know how your parents are always on your case to talk to them in Hindi or Urdu? Yeah, now you have a legit excuse not to bother.

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Man questioned and misses flight for speaking Tamil

By Brad Wong

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.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/287261_tamil02ww.html

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Wait? No foreign languages? Somehow I doubt they’ll arrest him for talking in French.

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October 4, 2006 - Posted by | RandomDesi, Social Justice

8 Comments »

  1. if i had a shirt that said, ‘we will not be silent’ in tamil…would i be posing a security risk?

    Comment by miral | October 4, 2006 | Reply

  2. No, but if you had a shirt that said “Make Chai Not War,” it might pose a trademark risk. Hypothetically speaking.

    Comment by SarahK | October 4, 2006 | Reply

  3. i love this line in the artice “But Parker had no explanation as to why a man speaking Tamil, which is spoken worldwide, would be considered suspicious.” the implication being, there are languages that when spoken, properly connote suspiciousness!

    Comment by aa | October 4, 2006 | Reply

  4. my favorite line was, ‘he had a perfectly innocent explanation that all added up’

    Comment by miral | October 4, 2006 | Reply

  5. Holy crap!

    Comment by julenka | October 14, 2006 | Reply

  6. […] Apparently, a man was questioned at an airport after someone heard him speaking a ’suspicious’ language on his cell phone. […]

    Pingback by Slow Motion. | October 14, 2006 | Reply

  7. The language is ‘Hindi’, not ‘Hindu’, as stated in the first line of the post.

    Comment by visitor | October 15, 2006 | Reply

  8. doh! to visitor

    Comment by blah | October 16, 2006 | Reply


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